Fountain Tire: Best of the Best - Tire Review Magazine

Fountain Tire: Best of the Best

(Longueuil, Quebec/Tire News) It’s a tremendous honour to become one of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies; to stay at that level for six years and reach Platinum Club designation is an outstanding achievement, and one that Fountain Tire has attained.

We entered the program because we wanted to see how we sized up outside of our industry,” says CEO Brent Hesje. “We were constantly looking at ourselves as compared to our competitors, but we wanted to step outside of the industry as a strongly-managed company.”

Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies is the country’s leading business awards program, recognizing excellence in Canadian-owned and managed companies with revenues over $10 million. Sponsors Deloitte and CIBC Commercial Banking, assess the company’s business and challenges, and independent judges select the final 50. Winners move into the Platinum Club when they’ve attained Best Managed for six years; Fountain Tire first achieved Platinum status in 2003, with 16 other companies. Today, there are only 31 inductees.

“We started this in 1994, when we first applied and were accepted,” Hesje says. “It was our first attempt at formal business planning, but since then, we’ve grown as an organization.

“The first application required us to set three to five goals to qualify, and when we had to re-qualify three years later, it was based on us achieving those goals. Ever since, we’ve been a lot more diligent about what we’re planning, and it’s been great for our company.”

An immense benefit, Hesje feels, is in the way his company now measures customer success; rather than consider the customer’s last tire purchase, the company now aims to meet the expectations of the customer’s last retail purchase, whatever it was. “If their last service experience was Disney World, we’re in trouble, because we’ve got to set the bar that high,” Hesje says. “But to stay in this Platinum Group, we have to show continued growth and improvement.”

Meeting goals meant considerable change for Fountain Tire: a new computer system, a more proactive approach to recruiting, training and retaining employees, strong management, and the creation of new divisions, including a wholesale company and a mining business to service that industry’s tire needs.

The all-important sixth year was the most difficult. “We didn’t necessarily feel that we were one of Canada’s 50 Best, because we’d gone through a whole process change,” Hesje says. “But we persevered, and in many cases we went outside of the tire industry to bring expertise in, especially in the information service area.

Now, I can look at my handheld unit in an airport and see how our business is by category, by store, right up to the day and customer type.

“It was difficult to go through that period, when we moved from a very freewheeling type of organization to one where we consciously installed more structure into the company. We’re glad we made the decision to become more process-oriented, to make better use of world-class technology, and we’re a better company for having gone through it.”

Fountain Tire’s 50/50 ownership at the store level is also a major factor, Hesje believes, “because our most talented service providers are dealing with the customer and they’re motivated to stay there because the financial rewards can be fantastic.

“Our magical number is 50: it’s Fountain Tire’s 50th anniversary, we’re one of Canada’s 50 Best, and our 50/50 partnership with our people in the field is making all the difference.”

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