Patrick Moton enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1987 and served four years as a section chief during the Gulf War.
Moton said he was raised in the military lifestyle with his father, Richard, a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force.
“I definitely wanted to do something that was a challenge,” Moton said about selecting the Marine Corps.
Following his service, Moton used the GI Bill to return to school and get a bachelor’s degree in business administration without the worry of school loans.
After working in various managerial capacities and 14 years in broadcast sales, Moton decided to be his own boss.
Moton said in corporate America, people have very little control over their life.
But by operating a business, “You get to be the master of your destiny, for good or bad,” Moton added.
That’s the reason why in November 2012 Moton purchased an AAMCO franchise southwest of Marietta at 2730 Austell Road.
AAMCO was started in 1962 and has 900 automotive centers throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.
The success of the first shop led Moton to open a second in Montgomery, Ala.
Moton said his military experience included mechanical aspects and “growing up in Alabama we always worked on our own cars.”
The automotive care industry has a bad reputation for dishonesty or poor workmanship, but Moton said he hopes to change that with his AAMCO shop.
It should be a place where customers — like his wife Nicole, daughter Kayla and son Landon — can trust for great service and a fair price, Moton said.
Military men at your service
Butch Carter, who was raised outside of Charlotte, N.C., spent four years as an intelligence officer in the Air Force.
Carter, who said he cannot explain the role he performed in intelligence, was involved in Operation Just Cause in 1989 when U.S. forces invaded Panama.
During his service, Carter had an ROTC scholarship that gave him a “full-ride ticket” for an education his “poor family” could not have afforded, he said.
After leaving the Air Force and earning his MBA in finance, Carter entered the pharmaceutical industry with Pfizer as a sales representative.
Carter said during that time he was a “road warrior,” staying 100 nights in a hotel in one year.
Like Moton, Carter has made a choice to go into business for himself by opening an Honest-1 Auto Care center in east Cobb, near the corner of Johnson Ferry Road and Roswell Road.
Honest-1 Auto Care is the only national full-service auto care company that is certified eco-friendly, which includes strict recycling of automotive materials, pollution prevention, resource conservation and eco-friendly tune-ups or oil change options. Carter said Honest-1 is a great movement forward for the auto care business. He said vehicles are being built to last longer, if properly maintained.
Carter plans to open his Honest-1 on Nov. 20 and will start with six employees.
On Friday afternoon, Carter was in the midst of interviews, and has already hired a service manager, Joe Hill, who is an Army veteran from Douglas County.
“He is the auto guy, my experience is in the business end,” said Carter, who added that all of his mechanics will be certified with “high integrity and experience.”
Patriots in and out of the shop
Moton said it not surprising two former military men are starting similar businesses in Cobb County. In fact, Moton said most of the comrades he remains in contact with have entered the business field.
Although Moton said he might have questioned why he joined the Marine Corps while going through boot camp, he didn’t doubt the decision later in life. In the military, men and women learn independence and self-sufficiency, Moton said. He also learned how to overcome obstacles, which Moton said means no challenge will ever be greater than what he achieved in the military.
Carter said members of the military also have an entrepreneurial spirit. Servicemen and women want to do “the right thing for people,” he added.
At an early age, military personnel are also taught responsibility, which makes them trustworthy as employees, Carter said.
“It is a get-the-job-done mentality,” that is not often accepted in the corporate world, Carter said.
Although his fellow service men and women were the highest caliber of co-workers Carter said he has ever worked with, he didn’t think about advertising his business as a veteran-run shop.
But, Carter said Cobb is a traditional community with a local military base, Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, so there is built-in support.
Moton, who has lived in Marietta since 2004, said his AAMCO shop has many retired military customers and he gives a discount to active duty service personnel.
“The support has been great,” Moton said. “(But), I would love to see some American flags down Austell Road where I work.”
Service with a smile
Carter said he picked the east Cobb location for this Honest-1 Auto Care shop because the 12-year-old building was available.
Although not on a main road, there is a large amount of traffic driving by on East Cobb Drive. The around-the-corner location gives the shop a neighborhood-mechanic feel, which Carter said he hopes will keep customers coming back for the personal service.
Carter has signed a 10-year lease on the property, which was previously a Napa Auto Car Care Center and had been vacant for more than a year.
Carter was remodeling the white-brick, 5,000-square-foot building, soon to be painted dark brown and beige, Friday afternoon.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a lot of great programs and mentors to help assist veterans in opening businesses, Moton said.
One such man is Dennis Eidson, an area developer for Honest-1 Auto Care, who opened his own shop in Roswell in April 2011.
Honest-1 is a nationwide chain with 35 stores coast to coast, with the Roswell store the first in Georgia and Carter’s in line to be second, Eidson said.
Eidson said he will advise Carter to give back to the community by sponsoring youth sports teams and school bands. It is about building long-term relationships by being honest and upfront, Eidson.
“Taking care of the customer is number one,” Eidson said. “Never sell anything they don’t need, do a thorough inspection on every car … recommend fixes for today and concerns in the future.”
This also means hiring honest service advisors and technicians, Eidson said. But, Eidson adds, the automotive care business has a large amount of turnover due to low wages. Eidson said he has already talked to Carter about the benefit of paying a higher wage for experienced workers.
Automotive repair involves many safety issues, as well as following rules and regulations.
“I always love a resume that has military experience on it,” Eidson said.
Servicemen and women are disciplined, committed and hardworking, Eidson said. They do not forget steps of a process on a busy day, but stay calm and focused, he said.