One thing this reporter learned while talking to these operators is that while there are lots of similarities in how shops adapted, no two operators dealt with the same set of circumstances— even in a global pandemic. Everyone was touched by the shutdowns and drops in business that happened. But within each business, employees and their families all dealt with different challenges.
Take Rick Murphy as an example. His company operates Fort Scott Quik Lube in Kansas, Mr. Lube in Bentonville, Ark., and Magic Lube Tire and Brake in the Little Rock area.
One day, he got news that no operator wanted to get.
“I get a call from the Fort Scott store,” he told NOLN during the reporting process. “And one of our employee’s wives is a nurse, and they think they’d been exposed. And he was worried about his family, worried about her.”
Like most operators, he had to act fast and stick by his decision. He closed the shop temporarily and sent everyone home.
It’s tough for any operator to close down a shop, especially in a time of slower traffic. But when they did open up again, their first customer was a Kansas State Trooper. Servicing that cruiser was an example of their essential service.
“Of course we do the sheriff’s department there, we do the ambulance service there,” Murphy said. “Small town and we’re the only quick lube.”
Check out his store and much more in the June issue of NOLN.