William Prather doesn't understand what all the fuss is about. He comes to work each day at Brown's Tire, Towing & Auto Care Center, serves customers and enjoys his job. The job and his years of serving the community are what his bosses want to celebrate.
Prather, born and raised in Shepherdstown, began working part time for Brown's Tire in 1988 when he was a senior at Jefferson High School. The job turned into full-time and Prather learned all he could about the business. This year marks his 25th year of service at Brown's, an accomplishment to be celebrated.
Ronald and Maria Brown, owners of the company, honored Prather with a picnic earlier this fall where they presented him with a plaque recognizing his years of service.
"Willie manages Brown's Tire's business as if it were his own," said Maria Brown. "His level of dedication and loyalty to our family and business are qualities that a company is very blessed to attain, especially for 25 years."
Prather, a quiet man who doesn't want to be the center of attention, shared that he learned a lot of the business from his father.
"My father was into it and I was always working with him," he said.
Prather now is a Master Technician, the second ASE certified technician for the company. He continues education constantly as vehicles change each year.
"There is a lot of computer work involved now," he shared. He explained that he keeps up to date on both foreign and domestic vehicles.
Prather's job these days mainly involves driving one of the tow trucks and managing the entire tow fleet. He shared that the most difficult part of his job is often keeping the customers happy. They are often stranded and he is the first person to respond to their needs.
"I just try to make things easy for them," he said. He said that he takes their vehicle wherever they need to have it moved, up to 300 miles away. The farthest he has gone is Vermont, he said.
He went on to say that he attempts to educate the customers on how the industry changes.
While Shepherdstown has changed a lot during the time he has worked at Brown's, Prather said a lot of customers are repeats. Maria confirmed, saying that there is an approximate 30 percent customer base that has been with the company since the beginning.
Maria Brown calls the business she and her husband started 27 years ago a "family." She laughed, saying that Prather and his co-workers are like "a bunch of brothers picking on each other." She let it slip that Prather is often the instigator when it comes to pranks around the work place. His co-workers agreed.
She shared that while there have been good times and lean times at Brown's, their family has been blessed by people like Prather. She said that through faith and prayer, the company has held steady for 27 years and will, if it is the Lord's will, continue to serve a faithful community. Prather said he plans to continue as a part.
"I reckon I'll stay til 30 years," he laughed, although he hopes no more attention will be focused on him as he simply does his job.