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Chamber inducts businessman who 'started from scratch'

Al Pons became owner of Chapel Hill Tire Car Care Center in 1953

Courtesy of Marc Pons
Courtesy of Marc Pons

Al Pons’ Chapel Hill Tire Car Care Center made him one of the most respected business leaders in Chapel Hill — and 18 years after his death, his legacy continues.

Pons, former owner of the Chapel Hill Tire Car Care Center, will be inducted into the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce’s Business Hall of Fame on Nov. 13.

Beginning in 1953, Pons’ automotive repair business flourished and grew into one of the most loved and respected family-owned businesses in the community.

“The primary criteria for selection is a businessperson who has demonstrated excellence over a long period of time, and he was one of the mainstay businesses in Chapel Hill,” said Bob Woodruff, chairman of the committee that selected Pons for induction into the Hall of Fame.

Woodruff said Pons’ genuine character and love for people in the community were seen through his interactions with customers and employees.

“He started from scratch, he helped his employees and he just did so many good things in the community,” Woodruff said.

“You’ve got to be well-rounded and give back to the community, which he did significantly.”

Marc Pons, Al Pons’ son and current president of the family business, said he believes his father’s induction is well-deserved because he had a lasting impact on the town.

“It’s a great honor,” Marc Pons said.

“And also great to reflect on the person he was. My dad had a big heart, and people really enjoyed doing business with him.”

Those who knew him said Al Pons’ focus was always on the customers and employees.

When he started the company, he made a commitment to conducting business with customers on a personal level.

“In the ’60s and ’70s, you just didn’t have the tools to operate a business, so people did business with people,” Marc Pons said.

“It was about the owner and the character of that person and trusting them.”

Al Pons was respected in the community as a businessman.

Members of his family say he was a committed and loving father.

Britt Pons, Al Pons’ son and partial owner of the business, has fond memories of his father.

Whether he was playing tennis with his dad or helping out around the shop and watching him in his work environment, Britt Pons said he enjoyed spending time with his father.

“It was great just hanging out with him,” Britt Pons said.

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“In high school, I would come up and do menial tasks, like take old tires out, and that type of thing. It was great to be around him in a work situation because I could see how he related to people.”

Neill Bellamy, Al Pons’ daughter, praised her father for his strong commitment to his family.

“I had to ask myself why my dad would get inducted,” Bellamy said.

“I really think it’s because he had such an open and warm personality.”

Looking back on her father’s life and character, Bellamy said the one characteristic that stood out most to her was his capacity to love other people.

“I would characterize my dad as one of those people who was capable of truly unconditional love,” she said.

“He was truly not a judgmental person, which is why he had so many friends and was so well-regarded.”

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