With a chain of tire shops stretching from Port La Vaca to Refugio, Beeville and Three Rivers, as well as more than a dozen other businesses, Carlos Garcia is a prime example of a successful entrepreneur experiencing even more success.
Although he’s likely earned enough money to sit back and let others get their hands dirty, Garcia likes to lead by example, and is among those in the thick of the action helping to make repairs while also taking time to interact with customers both inside and outside the waiting area.
Building an empire
After purchasing a small gas station in Beeville years ago, Garcia established multiple businesses in Beeville before branching out. He said he noticed many of his customers at the Beeville shop had checks showing they were from George West, Three Rivers and Oakville, so he decided to open up a shop in Live Oak County.
The bustling shop on US Highway 281 in the heart of Three Rivers definitely has the gift of location. Traffic is often brisk – sometimes downright heavy, especially for a small community. People traveling between San Antonio and the Valley, or from Central Texas to Corpus Christi, or between other parts of South Texas and Laredo, often find themselves at Garcia’s tire shop in Three Rivers when they need roadside assistance.
Garcia said he is happy to provide it for them.
“Nothing is more important to me than family, and I treat my customers like family,” he said. “I tell our employees to imagine that the person who is stranded on the side of the road is part of their family. It’s our job to get them home safe as quickly as we can and get them back to their families.”
Although the business is officially open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, hours are often longer based on customers’ needs. Emergency help is available 24 hours a day.
“We are all local guys – we can get to someone in this area quickly,” Garcia said. “From Victoria to Live Oak County and from in between the San Antonio area to Corpus Christi, we want to help people wherever they need it.”
Garcia has built a small business empire, with 16 establishments serving a variety of needs. He also owns about 30 rental houses.
A new focus
One of the newest ventures is the Staghorn restaurant, a beloved Three Rivers eatery that has been closed for more than a year. By Oct. 1, if not sooner, Garcia said he hopes to have the restaurant opening again serving the same types of steaks, burgers, salads and chicken-fried steaks that people have enjoyed over the years.
“I was a customer of the Staghorn, and I hated to see it close,” Garcia said. “A lot of the businesses I’ve bought, I was a customer of first. We will be serving black angus beef from our ranches in the area. It’s very high quality – there’s nothing else like it.”
Service & selection
At the tire shop, Garcia points to an extensive inventory that helps him to offer quicker and more efficient customer service.
“People wouldn’t think a small town tire shop like this would have this much inventory, but I try to have things on hand for when people need them,” he said. “I am also able to move inventory between our different stores so if someone in one location needs something, we can get it to them as quickly as possible.”
Before going into business for himself, Garcia got to know local residents while working for 10 years for Pete Scoggins’ GM dealership in George West.
“I used to sell people cars, now I sell tires and have restaurants,” Garcia said. “At the end of the day, it’s about the customer. I do all I can to meet their needs, and I want to offer the best service possible. We offer the same benefits that a big city shop would, including free tire rotations and balancing. That helps extend the life of the tire, and also gives customers a smoother ride.
Local ties emphasized
“I think it’s important for people to shop locally. Local stores support local residents. It’s not the out of town businesses that sponsor local Little League teams and support the community. The money we make here goes back into the community.”
Garcia grew up in Palacios in a family with five brothers and five sisters before moving to Beeville, and said his father had a successful business for 40 years.
“He told me it was important to always treat your customers like family – they come first,” Garcia said. “I bought my first business in Beeville 12 years ago and we had trucks running 24 hours. It was during the time that the oil field activity started to peak. We stayed so busy it was hard to keep up, so I just kept adding businesses.”
When hiring employees, Garcia said he looks for people who are teachable, willing to work hard and to treat customers like they want to be treated.
“I hire people that may not know much about tires and teach them the business inside and out,” he said. “If they are willing to work, I’ll teach them a trade. You don’t see the kind of manpower or inventory at many other places that you see here. To be the best, you have to invest in people.
“I’ve had customers from all over the state and several travelers from other states tell me this is the best tire shop they’ve ever been to, that we have the friendliest staff and the cleanest operation. We strive to do our best because we want the best for our customers. That’s what it’s all about.”