Tony Maxson is Smithville's own prodigal son.
The title seems to fit the bill for the founder and owner of Pro Lube Tire & Service, whose quick-lube business disappeared from the Missouri town three years ago.
With financial backing from his father-in-law, Mr. Maxson and two of his brothers opened Smithville Lube in 1996 on U.S. Highway 169 but sold it in 2004 when approached with a deal he said was ``too good to pass up.''
``It was quite a bit of money, and there was no non-compete or anything involved,'' Mr. Maxson, 37, said. ``It was nothing but the price, so obviously it was a good deal for us.''
Although one of his brothers moved on and found another career after they sold the lube shop, Mr. Maxson and his half brother Adrian Lilleston continued to work from a store they opened in St. Joseph, Mo., in 2003 under the name Pro Lube Tire & Service before selling the Smithville shop. In December, they resurfaced in the town where they got their start.
``We just really missed Smithville,'' Mr. Maxson said. ``This sounds kind of corny and goofy, but the people that come in here, if you work hard and do a good job, they seem to really appreciate it here. You can have a good business, but it's not the monetary thing that's really fulfilling.''
Pro Lube opened its second location Dec. 8 in Smithville, and business has been coming in steadily despite the short time span it's been open. Mr. Maxson said he believes many in the community remember the service they received at his last shop.
``I think a lot of them do, but with communities the turnover's so great we kind of have to establish ourselves again,'' he said. ``We're real customer-service oriented. You have to treat every car like it's your own.''
Mr. Maxson believes customers will be pleased with several changes the shop has undergone in its second coming. Whereas his first shop offered only oil changes, Pro Lube will offer tires as well as a variety of new maintenance services.
``We really offer a full service quick lube inside of a tire store,'' he said. ``It's almost a separate business inside the tire store. We have a separate area, where we do detailing, wax and we shampoo carpets. We like to think anything that takes an hour or under we can do for you in that amount of time.''
Other services the store offers include brake replacements, alignments and air conditioning system repairs.
While automotive service is the main focus of the shop, Mr. Maxson estimates his store also has sold about three and a half sets of tires per day from the location despite having a comparatively thin inventory.
``We're kind of a slimmer store, I would say, because this is a new place, but we stay at about 300 (tires in stock),'' he said. ``We can get tires twice a day though. That helps with your inventory immensely, having somebody that can drop it off in the morning and the afternoon.''
Pro Lube works closely with distributor Community Wholesale Tire's warehouse in Kansas City, Mo., and offers Goodyear, Dunlop and Republic tires as its main lines, but also will order other brands upon request.
``We might not have it here, but we'll sell anything,'' Mr. Maxson said. ``If it's not a semi (truck) we pretty much take care of it.''
Mr. Maxson said he also is interested in taking his business into the wholesale and commercial markets.
Contact TB reporter William Schertz at [email protected]