By Thomas Sellers Jr.
One of the iconic names in Millington history was Clarence Roland.
The late businessman made a name for himself with Roland’s Amoco, Roland’s Pool Supply and Roland’s Tire & Auto Repair. The man from humble beginnings worked hard to supply his neighbors with quality products and raise his two sons Terry and Eric with a work ethic that would keep the family business going strong today.
On June 15, Roland’s Tire & Auto Repair celebrated 50 years of operation on the corner of 4998 Navy Road. Clarence’s sons Eric and Terry were on hand along side their mother Carole greeting new and familiar customers.
The staff including manager Daryl Stroud were sporting commemorative shirts reading ‘Roland’s Tire Store 50th Anniversary — June 15, 1965.’
“Dad started business here in 1965,” Eric said. “He said the secret to his longevity, ‘You treat everybody the way you wanted to be treated.’ He has seen people come and go in this business. But if you give everybody a good deal in the long run they will keep coming back to you. And year after year, we’ve had people that keep coming back to us. We’ve had customers who have been with us for 20 to 30 years.”
Those customers have walked through the doors of Roland’s Tire and Auto for more than just tires. The shop attends to brakes, alignments, engine work and more. Eric said patrons also frequent the location just to say hello to old friends.
“It’s like family with people who have been doing business with us for 20 or 30 years,” Eric said. “And the military, word of mouth are some of the best advertising you can get. We’ve gotten a lot of military business. People have come in and said, ‘I’ve heard about you from so and so.’”
Many stories of Clarence’s generosity to customers from all walks of life echo through the walls of Roland’s Tire and Auto. Not only does Clarence’s legacy live on through memories of his discounts or a special assistance to somebody’s car trouble, but the office his son Eric now conducts business is surrounded by Clarence paraphernalia.
Eric said the shelves of collectibles and figurings remind him of his Dad everyday.
“A lot of this is my Dad’s stuff,” he noted. He didn’t have a lot when he was little growing up. So when he got older, he bought a lot of the stuff he didn’t have when he was little.”
When Eric was little, he remember spending time at the shop.
“I’m 43 now,” he said. “I grew up on this corner. This is all I’ve ever known. Watching my Dad and seeing how my Dad treated people, we just wanted to continue that. You give somebody a good deal and stand behind it, they’ll come back. You’ll do better over a long period of time.”
Roland’s Tire & Auto Repair has become a part of the Millington fabric. Eric said the establishments hold a lot of physical memories of his Dad, but the biggest part of Clarence that greets customers is his philosophy that allowed the business to reach 50 years.
“It can be a struggle at times,” Eric concluded. “But if you treat everybody the way you want to be treated they’ll keep coming back to you.