Matlock recalls tire biz start in Town
Memories both fond and heartbreaking came together a few week ago, upon seeing an old but special building razed, for state Rep. Jimmy Matlock [R-21st District].
Owner of Matlock Tire Service and its four locations including Farragut, the state representative felt moved to mark the occasion where his father, Joe Matlock, started the first Farragut location in 1980.
Duplicating a picture he took of his car the day Matlock Tire first opened in Farragut in June 1980, Matlock came back to that same location along the 10900 block of Kingston Pike, 37 years later, to take a similar photo — though it was a couple of weeks after the building was razed.
“It was just kind of speaking to how Farragut’s changed, Farragut’s grown,” Matlock said.
“The original building was a Gulf service station … a two-bay service station that we remodeled” beginning in March 1980, Matlock added about the first location across from what is now David’s Abbey Carpet. “I think the building was there from about 1961. … That building was about 900 square feet. We later purchased a pair of old furniture trailers and parked them next to it and used them for storage.”
The only Matlock Tire location before June 1980 was at Eaton Crossroads in Lenoir City.
“We rented that [Farragut] building from Bill Weigel,” Matlock said.
“… I came home from college [at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro] at 21, and my father wanted to expand into Farragut, what was then called Concord,” Matlock, who transferred to The University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1980, added. “I was working 40 hours a week and going to school.
“As the business grew we had to have a place to keep our products. The first week or two I’d carry the products in the back of a pick-up truck to and from our Lenoir City store every morning.”
Entering the 1980s, “anythaing west of Cedar Bluff was considered way out in the country,” Matlock said.
However, “Everybody, at that point, recognized that Concord/Farragut was going to be growing,” he added.
In addition to Jimmy Matlock and his father, the only other employee in June 1980 was Terry Goodwin. Another employee, Jeff Stevens, was hired a few
weeks after opening the Farragut location.
Less than two years at the Farragut location, “My father passed away in March of 1982,” Matlock said.
Having to quit college in order to run the business, Matlock had the extra burdens of moving the Farragut location — and paying high interest rates.
“The economy was in hyper-inflation. The interest rate was at 19.3 percent, it’s hard to believe,” Matlock said.
In April 1982, the Farragut location was moved “to the corner of Kingston Pike and Lovell [Road], which was a Shell station that had been abandoned,” Matlock said.
At the second Farragut location, “We stayed there until ’96,” when moving to the current Farragut location, 10730 Kingston Pike, Matlock said.
Adding locations in Maryville and Athens, “Fortunately, our business has grown exponentially and we’ve had wonderful
customers and an incredible staff,” Matlock said.