BY JACLYN ROSE –
Carl Pate began his career in automotive parts just after high school and has built a lifetime career in the industry. Pate was raised in Cove, Arkansas but moved to Mena his senior year, graduated from Mena High School, and immediately began working for NAPA. In 1984, he moved to The Automotive in Mena, which through a series of changes, eventually became CarQuest. In 2007, Pate bought-out CarQuest where he continued to work until early 2015, when the opportunity to merge with Bumper to Bumper / Crow Burlingame (Bumper to Bumper) presented itself. “Bumper to Bumper has been in Mena for at least 50 years and as part of the agreement, all of my employees were extended the right to move here. The move provided so much for my employees, the benefit package and the retirement is a huge asset that you take for granted when you’re working for Corporate. I just couldn’t offer all of that to my guys and Bumper to Bumper was the best company to merge with,” explained Pate.
With the six employees Pate brought from CarQuest, added to the men already employed at Bumper to Bumper, there is a total of 226 years combined experience in the automotive industry. “I started asking the guys how many years they had and we added them all up, we were shocked it came to 226 years and one of the guys said, ‘all that time and we still can’t find where we put the brake pads,’” Pate said with a laugh. They sell parts for automobiles, trucks, tractors, boats, remote control airplanes, and everything in between. Bumper to Bumper also has a full service machine shop where they can do as little to or as much to an engine rebuild as needed. Carl and Tillman are both excited about the merger between CarQuest & Bumper to Bumper in Mena and look forward to the opportunity of better serving their customers.
“It’s very interesting to us that the man that started CarQuest (Yanis), and the guy that started Bumper to Bumper (Crow), and another guy (Osborne), teamed up when they started their stores years and years ago. They formed a buying power and would go to market and buy their parts together so they could get them cheaper. The deal was they had to agree to not cross over and sell to each other’s customers and they had all their markets mapped out very well. So it has always been a very friendly competition and now we’ve come full circle,” explained Pate.
Pate married his high school sweetheart, Shelia, 32 years ago and together they have two sons, Daniel and Jon, and one granddaughter, who Pate affectionately calls “Sugar Rae.” “Being a grandpa is so great. You learn that you aren’t so macho anymore; instead you are all of the sudden putty, especially having a granddaughter. I think it was God’s gift to me, having boys and not girls, so I never had to attack any guys that went after my daughter,” Pate said with a laugh, “but having a granddaughter is the best thing since ice cream.”
Included in the employees that Pate brought from CarQuest to Bumper to Bumper is his son, Jon, who serves as the Assistant Manager. “People tried to warn me and told me it would never work to have my boys work for me but it’s one of the best things that ever happened. We get along great. Jon is really sharp. I like to say he compliments me, but I compliment him. He will manage his own store one day, and beyond if he chooses to. It was always great when Daniel worked with us too. We moved around the county managing several stores from 1990 until 2001, and I never knew exactly who I could trust to hand a key to, but you always know you can trust your kid. It works very well for us,” Pate explained.
“Polk County is home to us, we love it here. The people are so wonderful and we have a great customer base that we have enjoyed serving over the years. We also love the outdoors, we love to hike and go boating and I really enjoy flying RC airplanes with my flying club. Polk County is just a wonderful place to live and work. It’s home,” said Pate.