In the small town of Sharon Springs, Kansas, sits a community tire shop that started out of a garage of a home in 2015. That shop — which is a 2022 K&M Tire Top Shop Finalist this year – is J-Rod’s Tire Service LLC, run and owned by husband-and-wife duo Jarrod and Lindsay Hartman.
Jarrod worked in a tire shop for a decade before starting his home operation in 2015, which began as a part-time job. Lindsay says he left the tire shop after 10 years to work at a Chevy dealership 30 minutes away and bought a tire machine and started doing his own thing on the side out of his home garage.
“I was tired of working for everybody else and was getting phone calls from community members to fix tires,” Jarrod says. “Leaving the business I worked at for 10 years is what started it all; customers no longer wanted to go to said business to get their tires fixed since I was no longer there.”
Jarrod did oil changes at the Chevy dealership, which he didn’t love, Lindsay explains. When he quit there, “he decided to do the tire thing full time from our garage in 2017,” she adds.
In 2019, the Hartman’s went to a local attorney to get the business set up as an LLC, and by June 2020, they bought a building for their business as they “outgrew the garage quickly,” Lindsay says. The couple bought the land for the building from a sheriff’s sale and additional land from neighbors’ plots, she explains.
The land had to be cleaned up as it was occupied by trees and an old trailer house, Lindsay says. In 2019, the pair finished cleaning the area, and J-Rod’s got the plan for the building at the end of 2019. They worked with an independent contractor out of Goodland, Kansas, to build the structure with extra supplies he had from a steel building that didn’t end up panning out, which saved on cost for the Hartman’s, Lindsay says. Construction began on the building in the first part of 2020, but the business didn’t move in until June 2020, she says.
Luckily, they didn’t face hurdles from COVID-19 in getting the building up and running in 2020. Given that the county is very small, there were no COVID-19 cases until August 2020 with how spread out land is, Lindsay says.
The 40-by-70-ft. building with a 20-by-20-ft. office in the southwest corner doesn’t have bays, which was done by design given the building’s small footprint, she says. While the building is small, it has doors at the north and east end that are large enough to accommodate ag equipment and even semi-trucks.
“We’re able to bring in a semi for tires or a tractor to keep Jarrod out of the elements as much as possible,” Lindsay says.
Small Shop, Big Inventory
While J-Rod’s now has a building and two service trucks, it’s just the Hartman’s running the business. Lindsay works the office taking care of invoicing, bookwork, inventory, etc., while Jarrod is doing tire work, some oil changes and other jobs. The shop does 90-95% tire work, and Jarrod changes a lot of farm tires, Lindsay says. She adds that the business carries tire brands such as General, Thunderer, Hankook, Cooper and Mastercraft.
“We have a ton of inventory,” she explains. “When a customer calls, Jarrod knows their tractors, he knows their combines, we know what tire sizes we need to have on hand. If we don’t have them on hand, we try to get them the next day.”
J-Rod’s goes above and beyond when it comes to catering to its customers. In June, Lindsay says she drove nearly 12 hours round trip to Topeka, Kansas, to pick up a large tractor tire so that it could be installed the next day.
“It was almost bigger than my pick-up,” she says. “And I think when I showed up there and the guys loaded it, I think they were expecting me to show up on a trailer or service truck or something, and I’m like, no, it’s going in the back.”
The Hartmans may be running a small operation, but Lindsay says it continues to grow every year they’ve been in business. Inventory is thriving, she says.
“We sell a set, we try to replace it so if someone blows a tire, we’ve always sold those tires. That way we can try to keep some on hand,” she says.
Some sets can’t be kept stocked up because of supply challenges, but J-Rod’s keeps tires on hand that they know their customers need, Lindsay adds.
“We try to keep our customers happy,” she says. “My husband’s favorite saying is, ‘I can’t sell it if I don’t have it.’”
Lindsey adds that Jarrod has a hard time saying “no.”
“He helps anybody and everybody if he has time,” she explains. “We stay busy all the time.”
Dropping ‘Everything’ to Help Customers
During the winter, J-Rod’s is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and closed on Saturdays. While the shop is closed to customers, the Hartman’s are still at work behind the scenes. Lindsay says Jarrod uses this as his time to do service calls and catch up on stuff around the shop.
“He’s gone all day Saturdays most of the time just because he’s got stuff he’s got to do and he can’t do it here when we’re trying to stay open during the week unless it’s an emergency type of thing,” she says.
A lot of those service calls on Saturdays are from farmers after harvest who want to put new tires on tractors and other equipment. All of which are things that need to be done but aren’t necessarily an emergency and can be done on that day when the shop is closed, she says.
Long hours and service calls are what make the shop stand out, Lindsay says, adding that there aren’t too many shops in the area that would drop everything to go help a customer.
“In our community, we are one big family, and family helps family,” she says. “It doesn’t matter the time or day.”
Supporting the Community
To show appreciation to customers, J-Rod’s gives out fun promotional items to customers year-round. These include J-Rod’s branded cups, koozies, pens, keychains, tire pressure gauges and more.
The business also supports as many community activities as possible, Lindsay says.
“We support the booster clubs from the two schools in the county because we have a lot of customers from Weskan, which is the other little town that’s just to the west of us … and then there’s a little town to the east of us, Wallace, Kansas,” which has a population of around 100 people, Lindsay says.
J-Rod’s also supports its local Chamber of Commerce by paying into a flag program that covers the flags that are put out for major holidays, she says. The business also has radio ads that play during local sports games, which helps get the word out about their service, she adds. Other ways in which J-Rod’s advertises its business is through its Facebook page and a weekly local newspaper ad.
Some of the other local organizations and activities J-Rod’s supports include Women in Ag, the Wallace County 4H Sale and Bake Sale, the Wallace County 5K run, the Wallace County Fair board and the annual Fort Wallace Rodeo/Hudson Rodeo among others.
“We just try to support everything and everyone that supports us in return,” Lindsay says.