A Beautiful Thing - Tire Review Magazine

A Beautiful Thing

Within retailing, and especially the retail tire business, it’s hard to find it. But when you do, you have to take a moment to step back, take a deep breath and say, “Now that’s a beautiful thing.”

Within retailing, and especially the retail tire business, it’s hard to find it. But when you do, you have to take a moment to step back, take a deep breath and say, “Now that’s a beautiful thing.”

About a month ago, I received a gracious invitation from Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire to spend a few days out of the office and have some fun learning a bit more about its tires. Hmmm! Have some fun? I liked that idea! It was an offer I simply could not refuse…a ride and drive, but not any ordinary ride and drive.

This little pleasure cruise was taking place on a training track at the Bridgestone Racing Academy near Toronto. I was going to put my butt in the seat of a Formula 2000 car. They only had to ask this boy once.

In short, the trip was fantastic. The school was the best I’ve ever attended, and it gave me a chance to reminisce about a previous time in my life when I did some SCCA Formula racing. And the experience of driving showroom Bridgestone Potenza S-O3s on a Formula racecar was unforgettable. (More on that in our next issue of Tire Review.)

Driving aside, one of the most interesting and unexpected surprises of this event was meeting local Toronto tire dealer Eric Latino. The event at the racing school was mainly designed for media folks. At the last minute, one of their dealers (Eric) came along for the ride, which gave me the opportunity to talk shop with a tire man during some downtime trackside.

After we chatted about the usual this-and-that, Eric opened up a bit and explained his business model, one that was far from the norm. You see, this tire dealer entered the tire business by way of his performance engine building business and had no great expectations or desires of ever owning a tire dealership.

Eric got started in 1985 repairing and then building performance engines at the ripe old age of 20. Eight years later, in 1993, Eric had the opportunity to purchase an existing Firestone store.

The plan was simple: combine the two operations – performance engines and tires – and allow one business to play off the other. Not a bad idea. Fast forward to the present, and Eric is sitting on a $3 million business.

I don’t mean to minimize all of Eric’s hard work and success over the past 11 years, but I only have 700 or so words here. The title of this column is “A Beautiful Thing.” But I’m not talking about the success Eric has had combining these two businesses. No, it’s not about that at all.

When you walk into Redline Firestone & Performance, there is a certain harmony that one quickly recognizes – that unique harmony between a successful tire dealer and his customers. You don’t see that kind of harmony often, and it’s a true delight when you have the opportunity to experience it first hand.

Two outstanding characteristics come to light in this dealership: the number of customers in the shop doing business and the number of customers that stop in just to have a cup of coffee and talk. You can feel the buzz in the air when you walk in the door.

As Eric said: “Tires and performance go hand in hand.” On the fly, this guy oversees his showroom, answers tech questions, meets and greets his customers and talks to them. More importantly, he listens to them, and they listen to what he and his team of experts have to say.

“People stop in just to say hello and talk about their cars,” said Eric’s tire manager. “Advice is free in this store, and we like to see them hanging out.”

So, what does all this chit-chat, free advice and free coffee earn you? Eric moved 12,000 tires out of this single location last year. Now that’s a beautiful thing.

You May Also Like

Giti Tire announces winners of STEAM competition

New this year, the winning teams from each division will progress to compete out of state.

Giti-STEAM-Winners

Giti Tire revealed the winners of its STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) Competition in Chester County, SC, where the company's first North American manufacturing facility stands.

Winners included Great Falls Elementary School in the Elementary Division; Chester Middle School in the Middle School Division; and Lewisville High School in the High School Division.

Falken secures victories at the Mint 400 using Wildpeak M/T, R/T tires

Cole and Sky Johnson secured a victory in the 4400 Unlimited Class and Josh Atteberry earned second place in the 4600 Stock Class.

Falken-Mint-400
Nexen Tire to be the official tire partner of the San Diego Padres

Nexen Tire will be featured on a variety of marketing assets, including billboards and in-ballpark branding at Petco Park.

Nexen-Tire-Padres
Introduction to the Maverick Tire Changer

Joe Keene of Babcox Media speaks with Hunter Engineering service rep Rick Marzen about Hunter’s premium center-clamp Maverick tire changer.

hunter-upfit-Maverick
WGH to recall up to 520,000 Terrain Attack, Terrain Pro winter tires

The tires are labeled as snow tires, but do not have sufficient traction to perform in all snow weather conditions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Recall

Other Posts

Continental Tire introduces six new/refreshed tire products during 2024 GOLD dealer meeting

Company leadership also detailed updates to marketing/incentive programs.

Conti-welcome-logo-outside-1400
K&R Tire Center to host grand opening of new Flint, MI location

The company said it will have representatives from Goodyear, local customers and dealership representatives on hand to celebrate.

KR-Tire-center
Properly diagnosing wheel speed sensors

Wheel speed sensors don’t just read wheel speed – they detect subtle movements to enable all sorts of convenience and safety features.

TR-Continental-speed-sensor
Bridgestone Retail Operations rolls out brand refresh for Tires Plus, Hibdon Tires Plus

Updates to the logo include a single-color tire mark; a logo palette comprised of Tires Plus yellow, black and red; and refined typefaces.

Tires-Plus-new-branding