JOPLIN, Mo. — As Kristen Christy drove to her burning tire shop at 4 a.m. in November 2009, she said she could see the billowing smoke from a distance.
Kristen and her husband and shop co-owner Kent decided that day they would rebuild their service shop.
"It was devastating," Ms. Christy said, "but we're kind of resilient in that way. We're definitely 'pull-yourself-up-by-your-boot-straps and just get-to-work' kind of people.
"And we knew immediately we were going to rebuild," she said. "So, we just kind of went directly into the mode of, 'You know what? We're going to overcome this and this will work again.'"
Today, Reeves Tire & Automotive Co. operates three locations in Missouri and maintains a shop legacy started by Ms. Christy's father, John Reeves, who founded the business in Joplin in 1978.
Ms. Christy's earliest memory of the shop is going to visit her dad after school, sitting in his office chair and hanging out at the counter. She remembers the smell of the shop, the glass-bottle vending machine and how walking around the service bays always felt like a big deal.
"It was just kind of a different place to be," she said.
Her father put her to work at around age 12 on accounts receivable and helping to input inventory. She laughs now, remembering how particular her father was that she use her hands correctly on the "big calculator."
That attention to detail, she said with a chuckle, "has served me well over the years."
Ms. Christy studied business and marketing in college and worked for an explosives company in various positions, including data entry, human resources and public relations.
"I didn't really know what I was going to do," she said.
For many small businesses, succession planning isn't really planned; life just happens. When Mr. Reeves started to have some health issues in the late 1990s, Ms. Christy and her husband decided to step up.
Mr. Christy already was working at the shop, and Ms. Christy returned to work there in the late 1990s.
The couple bought the store in 2000.
"It kind of became a no-brainer decision that this is my family's business, and I definitely want to see this continue," she said.
Mr. Reeves died in September 2020 from complications of COVID-19.