Our Story as told by Canton Family Life Magazine
Canton’s Killian Automotive
If you’ve traveled down Univeter Road in Canton you’ve likely noticed the half-buried body of a Ford Model A alongside the parking lot of Killian Automotive. The vehicle once raced as #14 at a former dirt track on Stringer Road known as “The Cow Pasture.” Killian’s owner explains the shop originally specialized in servicing Ford vehicles. Its grounds became a fitting resting place for the broken-down car.
That’s a bit of Canton history regarding both car racing and Killian Automotive. Over the past decade the shop has expanded its services to include all makes of vehicles.
Besides growing along with the population of Canton, this business has perhaps flourished for another reason. Owner Tim Lanier credits a bit of philosophy for their success: “We’d rather lose money than lose your trust.”
More Than Ford
Robert Killian was a veteran Ford dealership technician when he built his shop on Univeter Road in 1996. Over the next decade his automotive business earned a reputation for high quality Ford/Lincoln/Mercury repairs. During those same years, Tim Lanier made the leap from technician to business owner by opening Lanier Auto Care, a small shop in Woodstock.
The two men had once worked together at the Tidwell Ford dealership in Kennesaw, and when Killian decided to retire and sell his business, he paid a visit to his competitor’s shop in Woodstock. The men had more in common than Ford expertise.
“We felt the same way about taking care of people,” says Lanier, who took a second leap in 2006 to buy Killian’s business. Several years later he closed his Woodstock shop to enlarge the Canton location, which at that time had four employees and eight bays.
Since then, the still-named Killian Automotive has seen significant growth—to 17 employees and 16 bays. Its services have expanded to include GM, Chrysler, Honda, Toyota, BMW, and more. This repair shop is now one of Cherokee County’s largest.
Keeping His Day Job
Tim Lanier did not follow a typical path to the automotive business. He once thought he couldn’t be successful without earning a 4-year degree. He began his studies at North Metro Tech (now Chattahoochee Tech) and earned a 2-year degree while also working part-time as a transmission tech. To further his knowledge, he read shop manuals in the evenings.
Lanier then proceeded to Southern Tech (now Kennesaw State) to study Engineering at night while keeping his well-paying day job. But this third year of college brought clarity. He says, “I didn’t really want computer-aided design work—an engineering job. I truly enjoyed working with my hands and around other mechanics.”
In 1998, Lanier advanced his career by accepting a position at a dealership in Jasper. Three years later, with a healthy savings account and encouragement from his father, he took out a small business loan to open Lanier Auto Care.
Lanier says he had been mentored by automotive instructors and technicians in his early years. He now returns those favors by talking to high school and trade school students. He has also served on the advisory board for Chattahoochee Tech for 18 years.
“My formative years are what motivate and inspire me to help guide today’s youth,” Lanier says. “I’m a big advocate for trade jobs. I encourage students to keep learning and to take the initiative to learn on their own with available resources.”
Keys to Success
Killian Automotive operates with guiding principles for business success, and these relate to that already mentioned philosophy: Never put money before people’s trust.
“If we make a mistake, we’ll make it right, even if we lose money,” Lanier says. “We want to do more than fix cars—we strive to build relationships.”
The owner has strict criteria when seeking a new employee. Lanier says, “Our standards are another key to the company’s growth and success. We work hard to hire the right people—the best of the best. We hire people who care about others and about doing what is right for our customers. We also hire the most qualified person for every position based on their knowledge and experience.”
Lanier is proud of Killian employees, saying, “We have a spectacular line-up of talent, with eight highly-trained, veteran Technicians who daily take on difficult-to-diagnose problems. Our Shop Foreman assists and mentors them. This former technician and tech-school teacher’s extensive knowledge and leadership skills provide a unique asset. I’m thankful for each member of our service team and office staff.”
Killian Automotive is family owned and quality driven. The staff is committed to customer satisfaction. Besides offering dealership-level skill without dealership pricing for repairs, they provide:
- Complimentary loaner cars
- 3-year/36,000-mile repair warranty on most repairs
- Friendly Service Advisors
- A comfortable waiting area
- Free Wi-Fi and shuttle service
See the article in the September 2020 edition of Canton Family Life on the Family Life Publications website!