published Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

B&T Automotive Service is a family affair since 1956

  • photo
    Staff Photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press Greg Davis installs a new power amplifier for a vehicle sound system at B&T Automotive Service Inc.

• Name: B&T Automotive Service

• Location: 1514 Cowart St.

• Age: The company was founded in 1956 by Carl Davis, taken over in 1967 by his brother, Lynwood Davis, and in 2004 passed to Greg Davis, Lynwood Davis' son. Father and son currently work together at the shop.

• Products/services: The company installs and repairs radios, remote start systems, car alarms, power windows and doors, DUI interlock devices, amplifiers, speakers, mobile video and navigation systems.

• Startup investment: $200, several week's wages in 1956.

• Annual sales: $250,000

• Target market: The business targets "anybody and everybody" with a car, truck, boat or train that has a "12-volt application for us to work on," including Chattanooga's own Incline Railway, one of the company's recent customers.

• Biggest hurdle: Trying to make it in today's market is difficult, said Greg Davis, especially as auto manufacturers have eagerly adopted many of the innovations pioneered by car audio shops such as B&T. "Every time we start to make money on something, they start putting it in at the factory," Davis said.

• Biggest reward: Davis likes seeing a customer leave happy with everything they wanted installed, he said.

• Challenges in the future: The challenge moving forward will be marketing the company as a higher-quality alternative to many of the mass-market big box stores where "kids fresh out of high school are working on $50,000 cars," Davis said.

• Lesson learned: It's important to thoroughly check out a job before quoting a price to a customer, he said, to avoid losing the business if the client balks at a higher price.

• Five-year goal: To continue responding to the market and keeping up with the cutting edge

-- Compiled by staff writer Ellis Smith, 423-757-6315 or esmith@ timesfreepress.com.

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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