Late one afternoon earlier this month, longtime Littleton auto parts store staple Bill Rodwell answered the phone, “B&M Auto Parts and More. Bill speaking.”
The caller on the other end of the line didn’t need any parts; he needed directions, and not to the store; to somewhere else.
Those are the types of relationships that come with small-town businesses that aren’t easy to replicate.
But that will be the goal for Morgan and Buddy Isles Jr. in the latest evolution of their growing business on Highway 158. Buddy Jr. is the “B” and Morgan the “M” in B&M Parts and More, an independent Carquest store that opened the last week of September under the same roof as Buddy Isles Tire and Automotive.
The Isles bought it from Bill and Pattie Rodwell, who previously operated the parts store on North Main Street for the last 20 years.
“I stayed in the business with them because I want to see them succeed,” Bill said, “and a small area like this; it needs this type of business here.”
That’s right. Bill will still be around full-time for the remainder of the year and part-time next year, making for a smoother transition for the Isles, who purchased the store in late August.
Buddy had known for some time that buying the parts store was in their future, but the process took a little longer than expected.
The new store is under the roof of Buddy Isles Tire and Automotive, but it is a separate business entity.
“Yes, it does benefit us for service,” Buddy Jr. said. “We wanted to be able to offer good service or better service to everybody and be able to offer that to ourself too...
“We wanted to grow the parts side; grow into new customers, new inventory, offer delivery service. Having it all in one place is a little bit easier to do that.”
Some of the other changes will include getting more involved in paint supplies, like mixing paint in-house. They’ll hire more employees for the counter as well as a delivery person for commercial accounts with the goal of completing same-day delivery when possible.
Growing the hydraulic hose side of business as well as increasing marine line parts/products inventory are also on the agenda, along with receiving as much customer input as possible.
To recap: technically, it’s a different business entity, but expect the same customer-first approach strived for in the tire and auto as well as collision departments.
As for that B&M name - that was Buddy Jr.’s idea. He and Morgan have been married since February, but she’s been a vital part of the Buddy Isles auto business since it opened in 2017.
Morgan calls her husband the “dreamer” of the two while she takes a more pragmatic approach to business; she has to reign him in on occasion.
She handles much of the business in the front (business, finance, customer service) while Buddy Jr. takes care of shop-side endeavors.
Morgan, a UNC Wilmington graduate with a degree in elementary education, didn’t exactly see that coming several years ago. Now, a letter representing her name fronts one of the couple’s business ventures.
“Having your name on anything business-wise, it’s a lot of...,” Buddy Jr. started before Morgan interjected, “pride and responsibility.”
She already took pride in the Isles name. That’s hers as well. “The parts store,” Morgan said, “it’s a little bit different because that ‘M’ is my name too. That’s huge.”