by: Willie Whitewall

 

SHALLOTTE—Fifteen years ago a man drove from Tabor City to Shallotte to help a company store for the day.

Fifteen years later, Arnold Ward celebrated his last day of work at Shallotte Black’s Tire and Auto Service. Ward, the store manager for 14 years, retired after 25 years with the company. At the time he came to Shallotte, he was employed at the company’s Myrtle Beach, S.C., store.

“The first day was really hectic,” Ward said. “I just came down here to work on the front-end machine and I started working on cars. I worked at the Myrtle Beach store on Third Avenue at the time. I never went back. I have been here 15 years. I had no idea I was going to stay.”

Ward says all of his memories of working at Black’s Tire and Auto Service are good ones, and there are just too many to pick a favorite.

“All of it has been good. It is a good company to work for,” Ward said.

Ward began his career as a mechanic technician doing alignments and mechanical work before moving up the ranks to become the store manager.

“I am going to miss it very much,” Ward said. “Especially working with the boys here and the customers. A lot of good friends are customers.”

The store’s new manager is Kyle Bias, who has worked under Ward since the start of his employment with Black’s Tire.

“I have been working with Arnold since 1997 when I was in high school. I was sweeping the floors back then,” Bias said. “He has taught me everything I know. Arnold is a great man.”

“This is a family business, and Arnold is a part of the family. He is like my second daddy,” said Ryan Benton, company president. “Everybody knows him in this area. He is a pillar of the community and we are sure going to miss him. He helped the company grow to where it is today. We hope to keep him around and that he might still come and help us.”

Kenny Bullard, region manager, expressed the same sentiments.

“Black’s Tire Service is a big family and Arnold has been a member of our family for 25 years now,” he said. “Arnold has been manager of our Shallotte store for 14 years and has come to know most of the locals. We will truly miss him on a day-to-day basis, but hope he will come see us on a regular basis.”

Ward admits that after doing this type of work for 46 years, he probably won’t retire completely. The one thing he is certain about is that he will not be working full time.

He plans to work around his Tabor City home and spend a lot of time in his garden where he grows all kinds of vegetables from beans and corn to beets and tomatoes.

His advice to younger generations is simple—“Work hard and put in your time.”

On his last day as a full-time employee, Ward’s co-workers surprised him with a retirement party and awarded him a plaque in recognition of his 25 years of dedicated work. He was all smiles as his co-workers congratulated him and shook his hand.