“Starting a business together is the ultimate test of a relationship— and the ultimate opportunity to grow closer.” – Maya Elious.
In 1989, a transmission repair shop opened in a small town called Hazel Green, Alabama. Owned by Tim Ellett and his wife Elaine, the business quickly became known for its honest prices and friendly service. The word about, what began as a small shop, soon spread throughout the town, attracting customers from all over who trusted T&E Transmission with their vehicles. Today, T&E Transmission is one of the most beloved shops in Hazel Green, Alabama, and beyond.
The story behind the success of this shop runs deep. The shop was named for the initials of Tim and Elaine—T&E—who worked together to make it thrive. Elaine managed the entire front end of the shop, with Tim handling all matters in the back. They put their heart and soul into the business, working together as husband and wife to create a legacy of quality service.
James Ellett, the couple’s son, fondly remembers how Elaine put her heart into the business. She would always try to accommodate customers in need by assisting with payments. James states, “It’s not the best business model, but she had a huge heart. We still have customers coming into the shop requesting to speak with her and sharing stories about her. Often, she could diagnose their problems herself.” She was always eager to lend a helping hand wherever it was needed. James continued, “I remember when I was a kid, Mom would even help in the shop washing parts or pulling a transmission – which says a lot as she was quite the girly girl. She would wear yellow kitchen gloves to protect her nails.”
Sadly, Elaine passed away in 2006, but her influence on the business has been everlasting: her legacy shines through each customer’s experience with T&E Transmission. This is reflected in the numerous positive customer reviews and recommendations online. James took over the business in 2022 and is working to continue the shop’s reputation for a friendly atmosphere. Armed with the same level of passion and drive that his parents had shown, James has been working to keep his family’s legacy alive.
James is the fourth generation in his family to anchor his career in the automotive industry. Since acquiring the shop, he’s invested much into modernizing T&E Transmission. He’s created better organization within the 6500-square-foot facility that now houses 7 bays dedicated to transmission repairs to make workflow more efficient. He’s also recently enlisted the help of a shop coach to propel his company forward with cutting-edge, imaginative strategies. James and his coach anticipate that this partnership will establish a robust platform for the future of T&E.
No wonder this automotive facility stands out above the rest—it radiates warmth that can only come from years of family tradition woven together with genuine hospitality. The staff at T&E are either relatives or have become like family. When James and his wife, Heather, purchased the business, they became critically-integral assets to the company’s success. As a result of her keen insight, Heather had an influential role in many crucial decisions since their acquisition. In admiration for his wife, James remarked, “She’s so much smarter than me – I wouldn’t be able to manage this business without her.” He speaks about the continuous support and advice that he receives from her every day. All in all, the shop is staffed by six team members, including James and Heather.
After years of honing his craft as a builder, James has since taken the reigns to become the general manager. In addition, he’s exceptionally proficient in performing complex electrical diagnostics.
James’ cousin, Chris Beshears, has been with the shop for over 25 years. James is incredibly grateful for Chris’s presence on the team. He fondly calls Chris his “right-hand guy” and has been a steadfast and reliable part of the team. Continuing, he shared, “Chris has moved to the role of diagnostician and has been doing phenomenally.”
Randy Parker is the primary transmission builder, having been with T&E for seven years. “Randy is an indispensable asset to our company. As a transmission rebuilder, his capabilities and enthusiasm are unmatched – often completing transmission rebuilds with remarkable accuracy,” James remarked.
Chad Colbert is the shop’s go-to R&R technician. A three-year veteran of the establishment, James speaks highly of him, boasting that he’s a dedicated worker who “will go above and beyond to complete any given task.”
Levi Yearta is the team’s newest member, and he’s been acquiring expertise in the R&R role over the past few months. James remarks that he is impressed with his performance, noting, “He’s done remarkably well and is quickly mastering the task at hand.”
A very special team member, Shawn Hicks, has been “adopted” into the T&E family. The relationship started with him coming to the shop to pick up the extra scrap metal. His bond with the team has flourished, and they’ve even awarded him with his own T&E uniform.
Throughout the interview, James acknowledged his tremendous gratitude for having a tight-knit and dedicated team. He states, “My guys are never in a hurry to leave at the end of the day. Many days we’ll grab some beers after a hard day and blow off some steam. Our camaraderie is something special, and I’m proud of that.”
T&E has made quite a name for itself in the local community, and most of its customers are brought in by word-of-mouth referrals. According to James, as a result, the need for heavy advertising efforts is minimal. However, he plans to extend the company’s reach through community sponsorships. He indicates that he and his team are new members of ATRA, and ATRA’s talented engineers are currently building him a website. This cooperative venture is expected to become a definitive basis for T&E’s long-term success.
At T&E Transmission, honesty is standard practice, and friendly service is second nature. Not only do they provide top-notch repair services, but they also go above and beyond by creating an atmosphere that puts customers first every time they visit. They take immense pride in the customer-first service culture the team has established and continues to nurture. With its roots firmly grounded in the Ellett family legacy, Tim and Elaine’s vision lives on. And with James and Heather committed to providing honest and friendly service, T&E Transmission will undoubtedly continue to be a leading transmission shop for years to come.