To fully grasp Service King’s quintessential rise in the collision repair industry, one must navigate through four decades of history to the year 1976. The unlikely scene transpires on Hardwick Street in West Dallas where young entrepreneur Eddie Lennox had his sights aimed on a small, run-down tin building.
That building, complete with a hand painted sign that read ‘Service King’, cast a vision that perhaps only Lennox could see at the time. So with a $10,000 loan to his name, granted by a neighbor and retired City of Dallas bus driver Charles Morgan, Lennox took a leap of faith.
Through purchasing the building, Lennox fulfilled his dream of owning his very own body shop. The young entrepreneur kept the sign out front and officially opened what would become known across Dallas as the original Service King Collision Repair Center.
“That’s all I ever wanted to do,” Lennox said. “At that point in my life, I never really thought about doing anything beyond repairing vehicles.”
With Lennox at the helm, his Service King business went on to revolutionize the automotive repair industry through placing the customer at the center of the experience. He also introduced the industry’s first loaner vehicle program in 1980, providing customers with a transportation alternative while their vehicle was being repaired.
The radical and very much visionary approach to the traditional body shop business model worked.
“That was probably the most pivotal point for me to really promote and grow my business to the insurance industry,” Lennox said. “Starting that loaner program and making it work was crucial because nobody had rental endorsement on their policy – so if you had an accident you were without your car.”
Lennox made sure all of his customers not only received a quality repair, but he took care of them during the process. He established The Service King Way.
Service King would go onto earn a reputation for exceptional service and repairs while expanding to multiple locations across the Dallas-Fort Worth area. By 1995, Service King grew to six locations as Lennox had standardized the company’s branding and hired current executives Jeff McFadden and Chris Abraham.
With top personnel, a recognizable brand and an unparalleled reputation for streamlining the repair process, Service King would eventually open more than 20 locations across DFW by 2007. The business quickly became one of the leading independently-owned MSOs in the industry.
Lennox and the Service King team then expanded beyond the home market of Dallas for the very first time when the company opened its first Houston location in 2008. The venture kicked off with a single location before Service King partnered with D&D Collision to expand to four locations in the market by 2009. Within just three years, Service King operated 12 Houston locations generating more than $70 million in annual revenue.
Following the success of its Houston expansion, Service King went on to open locations in San Antonio and Austin before attracting outside investment from premier global alternative asset manager The Carlyle Group in 2012. Backed by its new financial partner, Service King now found itself poised for national growth.
Not only did Service King succeed in expanding beyond the borders of Texas, but in 2014, the company successfully executed the largest partnership in collision repair industry history through joining hands with Sterling Collision Centers. With the historic deal, Service King grew by 62 locations overnight and suddenly operated more than 175 repair centers in 20 states.
Service King’s unprecedented strides continued to attract outside backing as the Sterling partnership was followed shortly by premier global investment leader Blackstone investing in majority ownership of the company in July 2014.
Today, 40 years after Lennox opened his first body shop, Service King continues to pace the collision repair industry in growth, innovation and quality as the operator of choice among consumers and insurance partners with more than 6,000 teammates in 23 states.
Here's to another four decades of The Service King Way.