By Michael Sudhalter
Over the past quarter-century, there have been a lot of automotive trends that have come and gone.
But there’s been one constant for the Colony One Auto Center, 1131 Dulles Ave. in Stafford, since it opened on April 15, 1991.
“The customer is an individual — not just another car to service,” Colony One owner Rod Tate said. “We have faster service, and it’s tailor-made. Relationships matter, and you really have to treat people right.”
The customers have reflected their satisfaction with positive reviews on Angie’s List (which named Colony One a “Super Service Provider”), the Better Business Bureau and AAA.
Colony One is on pace to service its 250,000th automobile sometime this year, and that lucky customer will get their service done for free.
The Auto Center has serviced approximately 11,000-12,000 per year when Rod’s father, the late Sam Tate, opened the business.
Sam owned a Texaco Station in the Alief area in the 1970s, so it’s not uncommon for third, and even fourth generation, customers to visit Colony One.
Rod, a 46-year-old Missouri City resident, worked in sales and pest control until 1995, when his father welcomed him into the business.
“I tried for years to work here, but my dad wanted me to work for other people first and get perspective,” Rod said.
Rod became the owner in 1999 after Sam passed away.
Many of the 19 employees and technicians have been on staff for more than a decade, including Rick Hanson, who’s been the General Manager since the beginning.
Two of Rod’s sons — Justin, 22, and Clay, 20, — work for Colony One, so there’s a third generation of Tates in the family business now. Justin is a Service Advisor, and Clay’s a Quick Service Technician.
Over the past few years, Colony One has added conversions, lift kits and off-road vehicle work to its list of repairs, to meet customer demands.
Rod said the auto repair position has changed due to the development of computers and software within them.
“It used to be that mechanics did nuts and bolts, but now software and electronics are the biggest issues,” Rod said.
Rod has been pro-active about providing the proper training and development for his technicians to stay up to date on the ever-changing technology.
“We’ve been doing something right,” Rod said. “I hope we can have another 25 years. Our biggest strength on people. People trust us, and we’ve proven ourselves.”