Leipold Tire co-owner describes how K&M Tire has helped fuel a successful business

Leipold Tire co-owner describes how K&M Tire has helped fuel a successful business

Ben Leipold describes his thoughts on where the market stands, customer expectations, his relationship with K&M Tire and more.

Sponsored by K&M Tire

As a second-generation tire shop owner, Ben Leipold, co-owner of Leipold Tire, is a seasoned veteran in the tire industry. He’s spent decades navigating the industry’s complexities alongside his brother since they took over their father’s business, and under their leadership, Leipold Tire has expanded to two family-operated locations in Northeast Ohio – one in Cuyahoga Falls and another in Stow. With a legacy dating back to 1975, Leipold Tire has become a community staple, and Ben says the company’s secret to success is a combination of adaptability and great customer service.

We caught up with Ben at the 2024 K&M Tire Dealer Conference & Trade Show in Atlantic City to learn more about his thoughts on where the market stands, customer expectations, the increasing presence of electric vehicles, and how his relationship with K&M Tire influences his business.

David Sickels: Hello, we are here at the K&M Conference and Trade Show in Atlantic City. I’m here with Ben Leipold. Ben, thanks a lot for talking with me. Tell me a little bit about your history in the industry.

Ben Leipold: I’ve been doing this since I was a little kid. I’m second-generation. My brother and I run our two locations now with my kids.

David Sickels: Leipold Tire.

Ben Leipold: Yep. We have two locations and all family members run them. I’ve been in business since ’75, so my brother and I are both here at the show today. Both my sons are back at our shops running them while we’re gone.

David Sickels: Where are you located?

Ben Leipold: Northeast Ohio. We have a shop in Cuyahoga Falls and we have a shop in Stow. K&M is our main distributor. We’ve been doing this since I could walk basically.

David Sickels: How many brands and how many bays?

Ben Leipold: My Cuyahoga Falls store has five bays and my Stow store has six bays. We sell all the major brands. Pretty much everything is represented by K&M. I get into all the other brands, too. Anything that is round and black and rolls I can get from somewhere. We have our primary hub of brands that we like to sell to customers. We’re not married to any one particular brand, but if somebody wants something and I don’t have it, I’ll figure out a way to get it.

David Sickels: That’s fantastic. I’ll bet customers appreciate that. Tell me, what’s a big challenge that you see in the industry right now? Day to day, what are you thinking about?

Ben Leipold: Just keeping up with the changes and working with customers. There are a lot of new changes and customers are more demanding. They expect to pay less but want more. It’s really common with COVID shutting down the industry and changing things so much. People aren’t accessorizing their cars because they’re already too expensive. More people are just doing what they have to do.

David Sickels: How about on the other end of the spectrum, any opportunities in this industry? Is there any tire vertical that is really going to take off here in the next few years? Or a service opportunity that you could think of?

Ben Leipold: A lot of people are keeping their cars longer because of the expenses, so we get a lot more large repair jobs that we didn’t used to see as much of, because of major issues and mechanical issues. Tire-wise, electric cars are taking off a little bit more. The tires don’t last as long on them. I don’t see anything that looks like it’s going to hit the new hot market, everything just takes longer. Twenty years ago, you could change a set of tires in 15 minutes. You can’t do that anymore.

David Sickels: Yeah, it’s a lot more complicated, for sure. Tell me a little bit about your relationship with K&M. How long have you been with K&M?

Ben Leipold: Twelve or 14 years – quite a while. We used to have a primary distributor that was out of Chicago. That’s where Mastercraft came from. They got bought out by a larger company that’s not so customer-friendly, and that’s when we met Kel, our rep with K&M, I think close to 13 years ago. K&M’s fantastic to deal with – easy and friendly. You get to know everybody. You’re not waiting on a phone onhold forever. Everybody’s helpful. Everything can be done by the phone, by email, online. You can choose how you want to do it and it’s all quick and easy.

David Sickels: What in your mind is one of the big advantages of having a partner like K&M?

Ben Leipold: They’re fast and reliable and you can trust them. The products are all good. You ask somebody to do something and it’s done. You need something to be handled, it’s handled. You’re not just a number. They come to visit. We do things together. Not only are we in a business relationship, but we make friends and partnerships in other ways, and every one of the guys you meet, it’s just good to be around. There are sales guys or saleswomen who are not our reps who go out of their way to help each other out. They all help each other, too. We’ve been in businesses where you have reps sayiing, “This isn’t my territory, call so-and-so,” and you get passed around. They don’t do that. If they can pick it up and help you out with it, it doesn’t matter whose territory they help.

David Sickels: That’s fantastic. Ben, thank you so much for your time.

Ben Leipold: Thank you.

David Sickels: Really appreciate it. Take care.

Sponsored by K&M Top Shop.

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