Business

Zeke's Auto Supply in Taos turns 50

Family-owned supply shop thrives on customer service

By Jesse Moya
jmoya@taosnews.com
Posted 3/15/19

"My dad still comes in every now and then to remind us whose name is on the door," Tracy said laughing.

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Business

Zeke's Auto Supply in Taos turns 50

Family-owned supply shop thrives on customer service

Posted

"Is it this year?" Tracy Tapia of Zeke's Auto Supply asked into the telephone. "Well, we'd better do something."

Taos has been getting auto supplies from Zeke's for decades after Zeke Tapia and his family took over the business in 1969. From then, co-owner Tracy Tapia said the past 50 years have flown by so quick the golden anniversary crept up on the store. Most family businesses last a while and then fade or are bought by larger stores. Zeke said it takes real customer service to make it to the big five zero.

"Most customers we've had, we've had for years," he said. "Everyone's on a first-name basis. You don't see this kind of thing anymore."

After several location moves and various expansions, Zeke's sits just off the main road on Alexander Street and provides essentially everything imaginable for any type of rolling vehicle.

Tracy and brother Carl have been running the business for 15 years after their father Zeke decided to step down.

"My dad still comes in every now and then to remind us whose name is on the door," Tracy said laughing.

Long-time customers and even past employees still come by just to say hi if they're not looking for anything in particular.

"I like the atmosphere here," said counter worker Jordan Espinoza. "We get along with each other and a lot of our customers."

Espinoza has worked for the store for a decade, an example of the lasting family environment of Zeke's. He started after getting a job offer from Tracy, who also employed Espinoza's mother in the store at the time.

According to Tracy, Zeke's Auto's family environment is just one part of their 50-year success. Another part is diversification.

"It's a good place to work," said longtime employee Rudy Valdez. "It's not like corporate where you're just a number. They treat us like family."

The current building underwent a second-story renovation to accommodate more inventory to keep up with demand of customers looking for specialty items like a certain type of hose or electrical part. Due to this, Tracy said the business expanded to cover other reaches of the auto market.

"The only way to stay in business is you have to keep up with [the big name stores]," Tracy said. "You have to match inventory and be willing to do more than they do."

Zeke's covers everything from automotive to welding supplies and even does paint sales and mixing.

Despite the large coverage, Tracy said they don't typically do any auto work simply because they don't want to disrupt the current industry of mechanics in Taos.

Another major aspect of the store is the distribution of snowplows, which Zeke's sends all over the state as the main distributor in New Mexico.

About 15 years ago, the store started selling and mounting the plows for customers in the area and the business took off. Currently, Zeke's supplies snowplows for most of New Mexico and even some customers in Texas and Arizona. Chances are, if a truck in Taos has a snowplow, it's welded on at Zeke's.

With the golden anniversary on the horizon, the group is planning for a party of sorts this summer but nothing official has been written down just yet.

What is clear, is that Zeke's Auto Supply has been serving Taos for 50 years and the employees said they have no plans on slowing down. If a customer needs a part, Zeke's most likely will have it. If not, they have same-day delivery that should be able to help out in most circumstances.

"We're not mechanics," Tracy said, "but we understand the systems pretty well."

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