UNION — The new owner of a local business has expanded what the business offers and added several free services in the process.
Sean Pantin purchased Tire & Auto Service Center of Union — located at 739 North Duncan Bypass in Union — from Steve Gregory in May, and Gregory retired at the end of that month. Pantin was formerly a service representative for Hunter Engineering for 20 years, which is how he and Gregory met. Pantin was the Hunter service representative for Tire & Auto Service Center for five years, servicing Gregory’s realignment equipment. Pantin said Gregory first mentioned the possibility of purchasing the business about a year ago.
“He asked if it would be a business I was interested in because he wanted to retire, but he wanted the business to continue on,” Pantin said. “That gave me the opportunity to come out of the career that I had.”
Pantin brings a wealth of experience with him as the new owner of Tire & Auto Service Center. As a service representative for Hunter, Pantin installed equipment and trained personnel to use it.
“If something failed, I was the one they would call to do repairs and get them back in business,” Pantin said.
In addition to his experience there, Pantin is also an ASE Certified Master Technician and has a degree in automotive technology. He was also the shop foreman in a Mitsubishi dealership for five years.
“I’ve had my hands in just about everything,” Pantin said.
Antonio Jeter is the shop’s lead technician, and Moose Thompson is the lead tire specialist. Mark Cuzano — to whom Pantin refers as his “right hand man” — runs the front office.
“We try to stay on top of everything,” Pantin said. “At any one time, each of us knows what’s going on with customers’ vehicles.”
Pantin said he is excited that Tire & Auto Service Center is now a full-service shop instead of just a tire store.
“There is nothing on the car we are not able to repair,” Pantin said. “Tires are a small part of our business. We’ve also done A/C work, engine replacements, tune-ups, alignments, suspension. There are no limitations to what we can do with anything mechanical on the vehicle.”
Pantin brought in all new equipment when he purchased the shop. He said he wanted to offer the newest technology in order to offer the highest quality of service.
“When customers leave my store, they are happy, and they don’t come back for a problem we have already addressed,” he said.
Since the transition in ownership, the shop has become a TechNet shop — associated with Advance Auto and Carquest — which covers all work done there for two years and a nationwide 24,000-mile warranty. If there is an issue with the part, even if the customer is out of town, they can call a toll-free number to be towed at no charge to the nearest TechNet shop to have repairs done for free.
There are also new free services that have been added to what the shop offers, including free tire rotations whether the tires on the vehicle were purchased there or not. Free alignment checks are also available.
“That way, my customers don’t hesitate to have their vehicle checked if they think the alignment may be off,” Pantin said. “I’d rather them not hesitate to have it checked instead of wearing out their tires.”
Tire & Auto Service Center also offers free tire plugging if tires are able to be plugged safely in instances such as having a nail stuck in the tire.
Pantin — who said he often receives comments from customers about always having a smile on his face — said honesty and trust are two things he holds in high regard.
“With my customers, trust is more valuable than anything else,” he said. “As an individual, I don’t chase money. I work my heart out to gain customers’ trust. They know and understand I have their best interests at heart. I’m not going to tell them they need something when they don’t need it. I’m not going to ask them to spend their hard-earned money on something they don’t need. With trust, everything else falls into place.”
Pantin said he is sometimes able to give customers advice that doesn’t end up costing them any money at all.
“At least they know they have someone who is going to advise them the right way,” he said.
Pantin said since there is only one chance to make a first impression, he keeps the shop and waiting room clean and organized.
“The customer is first,” he said. “As long as the customer is happy you’re there, and he feels confident that you can get his equipment fixed, then the equipment is secondary. My ultimate goal is for customers to think of me any time there is any issue with their vehicle.”
Pantin said his faith is strong.
“I pray every day, and I know the Lord has a plan for me,” Pantin said. “I’m not one to sit back and wait for Him to unfold His plan. I’m one to get up and go after whatever plan He has for me.”
Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-762-4128.