In 1990, Howard’s son Howard Leon (Lee) Harlan III graduated from the University of Georgia and joined the family business, making it three generations strong. Having grown up working at Autow during summer vacations, Lee had already gotten acquainted with many business owners in the Nashville community. This connection allowed him to gain the trust and patronage of several local businesses, enabling Autow to increase their fleet by another 200 over the next ten years.
As growth continued to flourish, Lee focused on gaining leverage in order to better serve customers. Thus, in 1998 the company became a member of the NationaLease Franchise. This affiliation provided Autow with more purchasing power and access to more than 900 locations across the United States and Canada. Additionally, it also made it feasible for them to provide towing and rental options to customers experiencing breakdowns not only in the Tennessee area, but in multiple other states as well.
As of 2005, Lee opened a second location in Birmingham, Alabama. It consists of 7 acres along with a 25,000 square foot facility, which substantially expanded the company’s market share. In addition to the business facility, there are two storage warehouses onsite that span more than 50,000 square feet and leased to Wrax Manufacturing and Coca Cola.
In 2013, the company expanded again and purchased the 6-acre facility located on Lebanon Pike, in Nashville. The renovations included the addition of a truck-detailing bay, a four bay fuel island, and through partnering with their sister company, Music City Trailer Repair, trailer service and repair is also available.
The upgrades transformed Autow into a one-stop state of the art center that includes rental, leasing, and servicing; devised to handle all customers needs.
Autow has been a member of the National Truck Leasing System for more than two decades as of 2019, and is the largest member in both Tennessee and Alabama. Today, Autow is predominantly focused on providing short-term and long-term rental contracts on their inventory of medium to heavy-duty over-the-road trucks.