Throughout its 50 years in business, Mac's Tire Center has been careful to stick to its tire-focused roots-and has stayed true to that in its service bays.
Mac's Tire in Tupelo doesn't perform complete automotive service, concentrating only on alignments and brakes in addition to the usual tire maintenance.
The dealership has 30 employees, six of whom are mechanics dedicated solely to non-tire tasks. Of the store's 16 service bays, three are dedicated to alignments and three to brakes with the remaining 10 for tire work.
The six mechanics are similarly divvied up: three do only alignments and three do only brakes. Those services are offered only by appointment-18 alignment and 18 brake jobs per day for six jobs per mechanic.
``We just wanted to specialize,'' said co-owner Hal McPherson. ``We felt like if we tried to do too much, there would be too much that wouldn't get done right.... That way we feel like we keep the quality of our work up. Well, we know we do.''
Store Manager Eric Roellgen, who has worked at Mac's Tire for 25 years, said customers don't notice the distinction much, but it contributes a great deal to the ease of managing the shop as well as boosting profits.
``Everything moves in and out a lot smoother,'' he said.
Mac's Tire divided its bays in 1987 when it moved to its current building, he said. At first the shop ran 10 tire, two alignment and two brake bays. The company later added one bay each to alignments and brakes.
The idea is just one facet of the business that has served it well over its 50-year history.
Mr. McPherson said he's worked at the dealership founded by his father, Waylon McPherson, since he was 13. His 14-year-old son, Patrick, is in his second summer working for the shop, this year as a tire changer.
At the same time, Mr. McPherson said he's seen his customers' families grow up as well.
``I'm even getting to see people I went to school with, of course I waited on them when we were growing up, and now I'm waiting on their kids,'' he said. ``And their kids are even starting to have kids, so I'm seeing a third generation already, so that's what's pretty neat.''
Mr. McPherson, 47, started sweeping the floors at the shop and now enjoys managing the retail business. He and his brother Ricky, 44, started full time after they graduated from college around 1980. Mr. McPherson said he decided early on he wanted to join the business. ``I never wanted to do anything else and still enjoy it today,'' he added.
Waylon McPherson, 78, has been semi-retired since the company sold the recycling plant he operated since 1990. The founder still stops in on the business. ``I guess he's checking on us,'' Mr. McPherson joked.
Despite his early decision to join the family business, Mr. McPherson said his parents never tried to force their sons into the tire industry and encouraged a choice. He said he and his brother each have two daughters who are looking at other career paths, but Patrick McPherson has been interested in the shop from the beginning.
``Ever since when he was real little when he would come down, he'd follow me around everywhere we'd go,'' Hal McPherson said. ``It always fascinated him. In fact he was just like I was.''
Throughout the company's history, Mr. McPherson said he's seen many changes, though the proliferation of sizes has had the most impact, he said.
The single-outlet dealership, which sells BFGoodrich, Michelin, Kelly, Hankook, Firestone and Goodyear tires, inventories about $1 million worth of tires. ``People hate to wait,'' Mr. McPherson explained, so the dealership tries to have everything on hand.
The company also held out longer than most other Tupelo-area passenger tire retreaders before leaving that business in the mid-1980s. Mr. McPherson said in the heyday of passenger retreading the company produced about 150 tires a day.
``We had a pretty good-sized retread operation going on,'' he said.
If the dealership was one of the last out of that failing business, it was one of the first in the latest craze among tire dealerships: nitrogen inflation. Mac's Tire added nitrogen about a year and a half ago and is now extending it to truck fleets.
Mac's Tire charges $5 per tire with the spare free regardless if the tire was bought at its shop. After that charge, the motorist doesn't pay for nitrogen again on that set of tires.
The dealership even offers to purge and refill tires that motorists were forced to pump up with regular air.
``Once the public got educated on it,'' they were more comfortable with nitrogen, Mr. McPherson said. ``We have so many people drive up now every day wanting it.''
Mac's Tire got some favorable press coverage locally when it began offering nitrogen, giving the dealership's image a boost. A couple of other dealers followed their lead later, though Mr. McPherson said they charge more.
``It has just been wonderful,'' he said. ``Customers love it.''