A father's business transcends generations
by Matt Shinall
Jun 17, 2012 | 1637 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jeremy, left, and Ricky Matthews run their 60-year-old family business, Matthews Garage, in Cartersville.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Jeremy, left, and Ricky Matthews run their 60-year-old family business, Matthews Garage, in Cartersville. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
slideshow
Ricky, left, Chantell and Jeremy Matthews share a laugh in the garage. Chantell Matthews, is currently the towing industry’s highest qualified, youngest female at only 17.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Ricky, left, Chantell and Jeremy Matthews share a laugh in the garage. Chantell Matthews, is currently the towing industry’s highest qualified, youngest female at only 17. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
slideshow
Mack Matthews opened his Cartersville automotive garage in 1955. Today, Matthews Garage operates out of three shops with 22 employees and regularly wins industry awards for service and performance.

Through the years, there are a few things that haven't changed -- Matthews Garage is still family owned and operated and they still place the same pride in their work as Mack Matthews did nearly 60 years ago.

Growing up in his father's shop, Ricky Matthews took to the trade at an early age, just as his son has done. Now, Ricky and Jeremy Matthews run the family business together as the next generation comes up through the ranks.

"It's all I knew really, I just kind of grew up in it. Mom and dad lived across the street, so as soon as I got out of school and had a chance, I'd come in and would be working on stuff at a real young age," Ricky said. "Dad was always hands-on and let me help him when I was real young. I just kind of got interested in it and continued on with it."

His son, Jeremy, gave the same answer. He too grew up working with his father and has seen the business grow. Five years ago, Matthews Garage finished construction on their Casssville Road location -- a heavy-truck shop. Business has slowed a little since the recession, but Jeremy sees more growth in their future and hopes to keep the family business alive for his son, Wilson.

"I hope to continue to grow a little and be able to provide something for my children to do if they're interested. I've got a son that's 8, he's here all the time," Jeremy said. "I've got two daughters, and they're not as interested as he is, but he's like I was when I was a kid. He's here every day during the summer from the time he gets up till the time I go home.

"And hopefully he'll be the fourth generation if all goes well."

At their home office, 18 Pinson Drive in Cartersville, Matthews Garage offers full automotive repair, just a stone's throw from the heavy-truck shop, and across the street from the main office lies the wrecker fleet. Matthews Garage runs a 24-hour towing and recovery service spanning the Southeast.

Although their business has thus far been handed down from fathers to sons, there may well soon be a woman helping run the show. Ricky's youngest daughter, Chantell Matthews, is currently the towing industry's highest qualified, youngest female in the country at only 17.

An incoming senior at Cass High School, Chantell, like the boys, grew up around the shop and began working the tow service at a young age. Learning to operate the heavy-truck wreckers, Chantell makes runs with her father and brother when she's not in school or selling equipment.

"Right now, she is learning the process of selling the wreckers. That's her biggest forte, is the wreckers, she's been around them and operating them since she was real little," Ricky said. "Everybody in the towing industry, all over the United States, knows her because she's won every award out there. She's been in all the tow magazines, she won the first Young Tower's Achievement Award ever given, she's the youngest female wreckmaster there's ever been in the world."

Chantell plans on attending Kennesaw State University after high school to study business management and return to help steer the family business.

"I've been around it my whole life, so it's just something that I've always wanted to continue in," Chantell said. "There's something different everyday, nothing's ever the same around here. You never know if you're going to be working a call one day or just working in the office doing invoice the next minute."

At her father's request, Chantell showed off a wall of awards collected over the past few years from industry associations and training programs. Next to her growing collection of plaques is a framed copy of "American Towman," a trade magazine opened to a feature article on Chantell after being recognized with the Young Tower's Achievement Award.

Each of the Matthews actively involved in daily operations enjoy different aspects of their business. Each wish they actually worked together more often and all relish the legacy passed down from Mack Matthews. For Jeremy, his greatest reward is just lending a helping hand.

"I get more enjoyment out of helping people. For instance, the other night I had a couple from Murfreesboro [Tenn.] broke down. They were heading to a baseball tournament in Douglasville. There was four of them so we took two vehicles to get them, took them to a motel. Got their truck going the very next morning, got them on to their ballgame," Jeremy said. "Trying to help people is what I think makes me enjoy it more -- being able to help them out and knowing that your reputation and your name means something. I learned that from my daddy and he learned it from his daddy about how to treat people fair and honest."