Polo Rodriguez, Jr. knows perseverance well.
He saw it in his dad, an immigrant who came to the U.S. at 17 years old with not much more than what he could carry on his back. After working various hard-labor jobs, Polo Sr. got into the tire business and became the owner of Rodriguez Tire Shop (Rodriguez Point S) in San Antonio, Texas, where Polo first cut his teeth in the tire industry.
Growing up, the grit and determination of “making it” in another country was ingrained into Polo Jr. from a young age. As a wide-eyed 6-year-old, he remembers going to work with his dad and being fascinated by the rapid pace of the shop. Bit by bit, his father and his coworkers taught him the ropes—not only about running the business but also the mechanical side.
“He [his father] showed me a lot of the grind and work it takes,” Polo says, reflecting on his time working with his father. By 16, Polo was a full-fledged staff member at the shop. A year later, he was tasked with managing the weekend crew.
“I was all for it. I knew this was an industry I wanted to stay in,” Polo says.
A test of his own perseverance would come when an opportunity arose for Polo to open his first shop. It had been a dream of his for a while. When he was a senior in college at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, he jumped on a chance that was too good to pass up.
“It was actually a location I drove by almost daily,” Polo remembers. “We [Polo and his father] saw a ‘for sale’ sign and started asking questions. It was a great location of a former shop, and we dove right in.”
Little by little, his dad helped him procure equipment and inventory. “I tell everyone, my dad fired me and then gave me a deposit to push me to start my own thing,” Polo laughs.
In the early years, Polo worked on getting the business up and running—hiring staff, tweaking processes, and managing its inventory, flow and finances—all while writing term papers and finishing projects late at night and on the weekends.
“So many weekends, I didn’t sleep,” he recalls. Three years later, he graduated with his degree. In the next 11 years, he would take his four-bay tire store on the outskirts of San Antonio and transform it into a sleek 10-bay store that offers around-the-wheel service, tires, mechanical work, engine repair, transmission service and more.
In taking a lesson from one of his professors, Polo strongly believes “you make clients, not money” as a part of the framework the shop uses to serve its community.
“We are in a relationship with our customers,” he says. “We’re passionate and part of this community with them. Any customer who walks through that door, at least two people know them by their first name.”
Polo is also passionate about training. He uses role play with his sales team to go back through a situation and learn how they could make the sales process better. His technicians take advantage of TechNet and manufacturer training with the goal of completing one hour of training per week.
In the last two years, Polo says he and his team have benefitted from being part of a larger team: The Point S network.
“As an independent, Point S gives us such an incredible resource to pull from,” he says. “We’re a fraternity, a brotherhood. I think that’s the advantage because I’m able to accomplish much more than I would on my own.”