Mica Marriott-Ward
Contributing Columnist
In 2001, I had the opportunity to work for my uncle at the shop. What started out as a temporary position turned into almost 13 years of employment at Marriott’s garage. My time with my uncle Mike Marriott really jump started my own career and gave me a good foundation in business and what good customer service really is.
My uncle has wonderful step children and grand-children, though never had kids of his own, and I always thought of him as a second father to me. I remember when my father was admitted to the hospital the day before my wedding and calling Uncle Mike to be on stand-by to walk me down the aisle if my father wasn’t available. Just last year Mike walked his step-daughter Misty Thompson down the aisle at her wedding which brought tears of joy to all our eyes. Family means a lot to Uncle Mike.
Retirement is something my uncle has been looking forward to for a while. His retirement means our family name will be retired too, which makes it all bitter-sweet. Many people approached me to see if I wanted to take over the shop, but the Lord has had other plans for me. I have known Jeff Ralston for many years in the automotive business, and he is a “good guy.”
Marriott Garage was around before our very distant rich relatives opened the Marriott Hotel chain, thus we never had to change the name, because we we’re first! In 1983, my grand-mother Marguerite Marriott did the bookkeeping for Mike for years along with running a day care out of her home. I know my Grandma was proud of Mike running the business her late husband co-founded. My father, George (Jr.) built, painted and hung the first Marriott Garage sign for Mike in 1983. Though there are many “Chiefs” in my family, we do work together to support each other and help where we can with our individual talents to assure each other’s successes.
I witnessed my Uncle Mike’s generosity first hand over the years with not only his customers but also his employees. He is truly the guy who would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. When faced with the decision to raise his ticket labor rate, after careful deliberation and much hesitation, he would finally raise it, but not too much. In the 13 years I was at the shop he only raised them twice. He always gave discounts to strangers and regulars. He always put himself in the “other person’s shoes” when it came to his business.
Knowing my family history in the business, it is an emotional time for us all who are close to Uncle Mike. I’m excited for my uncle to do the traveling and fun things he’s been putting off and not able to do.
I brought to his attention this Winter will be the first in 37 years he will not have to get out of bed in the middle of a cold night to pull someone out of ditch. We both agreed it is something to look forward, too.