Although it belies their down-to-earth work ethic and hands-on approach, you could make a strong case that the Fulks family is Mount Juliet’s First Family of auto repair.
The Fulks’ have been servicing automobiles in the area for so long it’s become folklore. It was 1975 when Ken Fulks opened Ken’s Auto Service and it’s where his 13-year-old son/apprentice, Mark, learned the trade.
“I grew up with it, starting in the seventh grade,” says Mark, who opened Mark’s Automotive Repair Center (MARC) in 2005. “My mom was the school secretary and after work, she’d drop me off at Dad’s shop. I’ve been working on cars since I was 13.”
Mark, Jr. joined the family operation to help with bookkeeping on a part-time basis in 2010. A graduate of MTSU with a degree in business management, he serves as general manager today and oversees the shop’s customer-facing communications platforms including the website, text messages, and email marketing.
According to Mark, Sr., Ken Fulks was a great mechanic and an even greater advocate for his customers. Too great, perhaps.
“Dad took great care of people, to his demise in some ways,” says Fulks. “He was almost too nice for his own good.”
That was a contributing factor to Ken’s Auto Service going out of business in 1995.
Mark went to work for other shops and did private repairs on the side. When he opened his own business, he brought his dad along to help, essentially reversing their roles.
Ken Fulks died in 2010 but it was during that year that four generations of the Fulks family were turning wrenches in the garage.
“Junior, Dad and I were there and my youngest son, Jaden, who was 8 years old, would come to the shop after school,” says Fulks. “He’d mostly play with my dad, but we were all there and those were some special times.”
Today, Jaden is 21 and working full-time at MARC as a technician.
Mark’s Automotive Repair Center was somewhat nomadic at the outset. Fulks rented a garage for a year and a half in Mount Juliet, then relocated to Hermitage in 2013 and remained there for five years until moving to its permanent home at 14185 Lebanon Rd.
“We lost a lot of customers when we moved to Hermitage,” says Fulks. “But when we announced we were returning to Mount Juliet, it was amazing how many people were so happy we were coming back. That made us feel good about what we’re doing.”
Fulks has customers today who have been with him since he was doing side projects. “I’m always nice to my customers’ kids. We have so many customers in their 20s and 30s that were little bitty kids when I worked on their parents’ cars,” says Fulks. “One of my technicians now was one of those kids.
“My guys are good, I pay them good money and we use good parts,” says Fulks. “So, we’re not the most expensive shop in town but we’re not the cheapest, either. But you get what you pay for, and I want the people who work here and the people who trust us with their vehicles to feel good about the decisions they’ve made.”
You’d expect nothing less from Mount Juliet’s First Family of auto repair.