For more than three decades Mark Holt has been a fixture in downtown Carbondale. While many of the buildings and businesses around his company — Holt’s Tire and Auto — have changed, Holt and his business have been a constant.
“I don’t think my approach to business has changed much,” Holt said, reflecting on what he says are “32 or 33 years” in the tire business. “I still enjoy it and still like the camaraderie with the people and seeing all kinds of different people every day.”
Even after more than 30 years at the Helm, he says he still enjoys what he does.
“I’m not a guy that comes to work in a sport coat and tie like some of the tire dealers do.”
In fact, he still changes tires and does repairs himself.
“I don’t change as many tires as I used to. They are getting bigger and heavier and Mark (referring to himself in the third-person) is also getting bigger and heavier,” he said with a grin. “My lifting skills aren’t as good as they used to be and I don’t want to get hurt. I still help, but not as much as I used to.”
Holt always has been helping people with their cars. His father was a partner in longtime Carbondale business Jake’s Tire and Muffler. Holt had experience working with his father as well as tenure as a car salesman at an area dealership.
“When my dad retired, I decided to do this. I found this gas station that was for sale and decided I’d go into the tire business. I’ve been here ever since,” Holt said.
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The building, a former Texaco gas station on the corner of East Main and Marion Streets, has not changed much over the years, but Holt says tires have.
“It used to be tires were just 13s, 14s and 15s, and now sizes goes anywhere from 16 to 20 and every now and then we see a specialty vehicle with 28s. Really, there’s just too many sizes now,” he said. “Tires last a lot longer today, too, and they are just better.”
Holt adds that doing business has changed as well.
“The computers have changed everything. I used to be a guy that did paperwork every day,” he said. “Now we’re pushing buttons, but I try to still be pretty easy-going. You have to deal with everybody in a little bit of a different way. Not everyone wants you to joke around and clown with them; some people want you to be a little bit more serious about what they are buying and what you’re fixing.”
He says treating people well has been a key to the longevity of Holt’s Tire.
“I’ve met so many great people along the way: first working for my dad and working in the automobile industry all this time. It’s helped me to meet a lot of great people,” he said. “We know we are not perfect, but we try pretty hard. Everybody’s different and I really enjoy that aspect of the business.”
Holt says he has no plans to slow down.
“I’ve lived a pretty good life out of this old gas station tire business and I can’t complain. I’ve had a lot of fun through the years,” he says. “I don’t have much interest in staying home. I enjoy getting up every day, coming in here and meeting people,” he said. “This is a happy place.”
Holt’s Tire and Auto can be reached at 618-529-3383.