Layoffs on Fort Hood affect people in different ways.

Tom Harshbarger, born and raised in Killeen and recently laid off from a mechanical position on Fort Hood, decided to turn the negative into a positive by opening his own shop, Track Straight Alignment, in Killeen.

“We know the area and lots of people here in Killeen so we thought this would be the best place to try to set up” he said.

Harshbarger is ASE Master-certified and has more than 20 years of experience as a mechanic. He and his wife Judy opened Track Straight three months ago in an unconventional location — the shopping center near Hobby Lobby.

“Everyone looks for a typical garage, but we’re in an office space with a garage behind us,” Harshbarger said.

The location has caused the only problem the Harshbargers have faced in their business.

“We can’t be seen from the highway and neither can our sign,” Judy Harshbarger said.

Despite the shop’s visibility problem, word of mouth is helping spread news about Track Straight. Knute Willison said he was referred to Tom Harshbarger when he recently purchased a new set of tires.

“I bought a set of tires from Walmart a month ago and didn’t get an alignment and they only lasted a month,” he said. “I bought another set today from Discount Tire and the guy there sent me here to get an alignment to help the tires last and my car drive better.”

Willison prefers to use the services of locally-owned companies like Track Straight instead of chain stores. “There is no wait for them to fix my car; I like that,” he said.

Some of Tom Harshbarger’s longtime customers are happy he opened the new shop. Steven Dumont has done business with him for nine years.

“I’ve owned five automobiles and am passionate about making them better by adding aftermarket parts on it,” Dumont said. “He’s been there every single step of the way and every one of my cars turned out beautifully and ran better than they did coming out of the factory. And when I sold them, the customers were happy all because of Tom.”

Track Straight Alignment offers senior citizen and military discounts.

“I appreciate people who step up to the plate and support our great nation,” Tom Harshbarger said.

The shop is at 2501 S. W.S. Young Drive, Suite 205, Killeen. For more information, call 254-628-5000.

Herald/ Kathryn Leisinger

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