It is anticipated that a new concrete slab will be poured this week for Kieth’s Service Station in Vilonia, and there may be a Christmas grand reopening.
"It will be a whole different picture this time next month," said Kieth McCord, owner, looking at the concrete slab, a leftover from the April 27 tornado destruction. A smile on his face, Bostic said his goal is to see McCord hold a Christmas grand opening.
A friend of McCord’s, Bud Bostic of B&L Drywall is helping with the project. The new building, Bostic said, is to measure about 80x120 feet, with a 48x65-foot addition on the side. It is designed to be about 25 feet wider than the older store, Bostic said.
The new store will also provide a larger area for the shop and parts store, including a waiting room. A safe room will also be built, providing his customers a "hopefully safe" place to gather. Many of his customers, he said, come to the store during bad weather. On April 27 there were 16-18 customers inside when the tornado "peeled the shop off."
McCord said he is going to remain tight-lipped regarding the rest of the building project. Some aspects will be revealed in time.
"There are some secrets," he said.
A Vilonia icon, McCord said he has been hanging around service stations since he was a toddler. At 17 he became an owner. He said he rented from Loyd Bise for $275 per month across the street from his current location. During the early days, McCord said he was generally the sole employee. However he did get some help from friends. This is his 38th year in business.
On a 100-plus degree day last week, with the sun beating down, McCord’s employees were working on tires and servicing vehicles in a carport. His five employees have done a good job dealing with the downed building and continuing to take care of customers.
"The boys are doing a good job," he added.
Sure, it has been an inconvenience working out in the heat, McCord explained, but it’s really not that big of a problem.
A twinkle in his eye and a smile crossing his lips, it’s hard to know if McCord is ribbing an unknowing reporter when he tells the story of coming to Vilonia as a teenager. His father was retired from the Air Force, and they were headed to Greenbrier traveling from Springfield, Mass. His dad, he said, had studied about Arkansas — the land of opportunity. "We were headed to Greenbrier, and my dad got off on the wrong exit. When we were driving through town, I told him I liked it here. He said ‘I do too.’"
The family rented a house in Vilonia and McCord’s relationship with his customers and the city began. The rest is history.