After working at his father’s tire shop when he was younger, Steve Gawley started his own tire shop from scratch in 2015, specializing in everything from PLT to commercial and ag tires.
We spoke with Gawley at the 2023 K&M Tire Dealer Conference & Trade Show to learn more about the challenges and opportunities from being in the tire business. Steve also discusses the benefits of his business giving back to the community through donations and sponsorships. Steve also highlights his positive relationship with K&M Tire, emphasizing their family-oriented and down-to-earth approach in the tire business.
Maddie Winer: Hi, I am Maddie Winer, and we’re at the 2023 K&M Tire Dealer Conference and Trade Show in Las Vegas. I’m pleased to be joined by Steve Gawley, owner of Gawley Tire and Repair in Irwin, Iowa. Steve, thanks for joining us today. We appreciate it.
Steve Gawley: Thank you very much.
Maddie Winer: So Steve, tell us how you got started in the business, in the tire industry.
Steve Gawley: My dad owned a tire shop in town, so I was born and raised there. And I worked for him for so many years. And he sold off, and I kind of went on my own. And it started that way, I guess. I took off on my own and went with it, and it’s been very well.
Maddie Winer: Very cool. Okay. Okay. And did you buy the business or acquired the business?
Steve Gawley: I started from scratch and built my own shop.
Maddie Winer: Wow.
Steve Gawley: Did everything from scratch myself.
Maddie Winer: How many years have you been in the industry?
Steve Gawley: Full-time since 1990.
Maddie Winer: Wow. And as a shop owner, how long?
Steve Gawley: 2015, full-time.
Maddie Winer: Awesome.
Steve Gawley: Yep.
Maddie Winer: Great. Very cool. So tell us about the business, Gawley Tire and Repair. Maybe give me a little bit of the history. You said founded in 2015, the type of work you do, the brands you carry, things like that.
Steve Gawley: We carry about everything. We do passenger light truck, semi. We do a lot of ag. We’re big in the ag department. We run three service trucks, 24-7. Ag is our main focus, but we do a lot of everything.
Maddie Winer: Tell me about how you found the business. How did you find the property? How many bays do you guys have? Things like that.
Steve Gawley: It’s where I live. I had a little one-car garage, and then I built a 90 by 90 shop. And now, since then, I put on another 140 foot from there. We probably have seven employees. It’s all about my employees. You couldn’t do nothing without employees there. They’re awesome. It’s a family deal. My mom and dad are there. My wife does all the books. My kids are there. It’s a family deal. It’s a small town, 350 people. Yeah, we do a lot of service calls. That’s our main thing is service calls.
Maddie Winer: For ag, is that right?
Steve Gawley: Yeah, ag, yes.
Maddie Winer: Okay, okay, very interesting. Big farm town?
Steve Gawley: Yep. Yep. Yep.
Maddie Winer: Okay. Okay. Okay. And then the rest, passenger, light truck.
Steve Gawley: Light semi.
Maddie Winer: Any commercial?
Steve Gawley: Yep, everything. Everything, yep.
Maddie Winer: Everything. Wow, the whole gamut.
Steve Gawley: The whole thing. Yep.
Maddie Winer: Very cool. Okay. So you have a different perspective as you deal with so much on a day-to-day basis, I would imagine. So tell me about what you think is one opportunity and one challenge you see for tire dealers in the industry.
Steve Gawley: The opportunities, it’s all what you make of it. You can do what you want. I mean, you can stay as busy as you want. You can do what you want. The challenge is 100% finding help. Today’s world, you can’t find help. You can’t find anybody that wants to run a service truck. I got a couple of awesome guys. I’d be dead in the water without them. But it’s very, very tough finding help, and you got to pay very, very much to keep people. That’s the whole challenge is help.
Maddie Winer: Yeah. Well, it seems like you’re doing a great job with your employees.
Steve Gawley: Yep. We got a great crew. I couldn’t do it without them.
Maddie Winer: Very nice. So K&M shops are great at giving back to their community. So tell me about one way your business gives back to the community.
Steve Gawley: We do a lot for the community. I mean, we donate a lot of stuff. My dad’s been on the fire department. My kids on the fire department, the ambulance. We do a lot for the community. Donate a lot of time and money to the community.
Maddie Winer: That’s great to hear. And do you guys do any sponsorships?
Steve Gawley: Yep. There’s a lot of racetracks around there we sponsor. Snocross racing we sponsor, tractor pulls we sponsor. We sponsor everything that’s around there, I guess. Yep.
Maddie Winer: Anything to help out.
Steve Gawley: Yep, definitely.
Maddie Winer: That’s great to hear. That’s awesome. Now Steve, tell us about your relationship with K&M Tire. What makes them a good partner in the tire business?
Steve Gawley: We do a lot with… There’s probably seven companies that drop every day, but there’s nobody like K&M that is as down to Earth and family. It’s all family-oriented. Family takes priority over everything. It all comes first. And I know them all. You’re not just a number. You know that each person. I got their phone numbers. You can get ahold of them 24-7. They’re just an awesome crew. Ken, he’s the best guy. Cheryl runs a good show. They’re just all great people.
Maddie Winer: That’s great to hear. That’s awesome. Well Steve, thanks so much for talking with us today. We really appreciate your time. And for those interested, the nominations from the Mr. Tire Big Three Tire Top Shop program are now open. You can go to mrtiretopshop.com to learn more information.
Sponsored by K&M Tire.