For more than 25 years, Tire Pros, a subsidiary of American Tire Distributors (since 2009), has supported the independent tire dealer.
Tire Pros helps dealers strengthen their business and enhance their bottom line through marketing programs, training, financial enhancements, profitability assessments and more.
Another way Tire Pros is able to help its dealers is by working with its national and regional dealer councils.
The purpose of the Tire Pros dealer councils is to be the “voice” of the tire dealer. The councils work with Tire Pros management to map the future as well as expand services and the value proposition of the Tire Pros franchise.
“Tire Pros is truly a ‘ground-up’ or ‘dealer-up/dealer-focused’ franchise guided and led by the regional council members – who are also highly engaged members of Tire Pros. The strength of the Tire Pros family comes from the guidance and leadership of the regional and national dealer councils,” Tire Pros says.
There are four Tire Pros regional councils (Western, Midwest, Southeast, and Northeast) and one National Council. Each regional council consists of eight members. The chairman and vice chairman of each regional council also sit on the National Council.
Council members must be a Five Diamond dealer and commit time to the success of the Tire Pros family. Regional councils meet twice a year and the National Council meets three times a year. Additionally, in between meetings council members are conducting dealer phone trees to get opinions, praises, and grievances about any elements of the Tire Pros program.
The members of Tire Pro’s dealer councils are not only proud to be members of the Tire Pros group, but proud to be independent tire dealers impacting their local community.
Ryan Goff, co-owner of Roger’s Tire Pros and Auto Care Center, didn’t always know he wanted to be a tire dealer.
Goff is the second generation to be involved in the business. His father, Roger Goff, started the dealership in 1978, and Goff became involved with the business in 1997. Today, Goff co-owns Roger’s Tire Pros in Caldwell, Idaho, with his brother and father.
In his 18-year career, Goff says the most enlightening time for him was in 2007 and 2008.
“I think really the big waking point was when the economy crashed. It definitely became a challenge,” he says. “We definitely had to learn every little nuance, in and out of everything that we possible could to make the business successful.”
“In our area we’re very blue collar and a lot of the jobs were gone and the economy completely went away. It really made you self reflect and see just how successful you could be in the business,” Goff continues.
While business challenges might frustrate some, Goff enjoys them.
“The most enjoyable part of being a tire dealer, and it sounds crazy, is the challenges of what makes the business work. How do you be successful? How do you differentiate among the others that are doing it,” he shares.
As for why Goff is proud to be a tire dealer, Goff says he’s most proud of carrying on his family’s business success as well as being involved in the community.
“It’s our family name and legacy. It’s really who we are, almost to the point of what defines us,” Goff shares.
Roger’s Tire Pros is involved with several different charities focusing on youth. The dealership sponsors “Shop with a Cop,” and families during Christmas. Additionally, the dealership tries to donate to the schools and YMCA.
As for the future of Roger’s Tire Pros, Goff says the dealership is working on getting a second location up and running.
Goff has been a member of the Tire Pros dealer councils for several years.
Hootie Gipson, co-owner of Gipson’s Tire Pros, was born into the tire industry. While the industry wasn’t always his first love – he loved theater production and participated in college and local shows – Gipson has spent nearly 35 years in the tire business.
Gipson got his start in the tire industry at an early age, going to the store with his father and “getting in peoples’ way,” he says. As he got older he cleaned floors, stocked shelves, and eventually was a tire buster. Today Gipson operates three locations – in Millbrook, Prattville and Montgomery, Ala. – with his brother.
Gipson says one of his favorite things about the business is meeting with people and helping them.
“I really don’t like to use the word customers or clients, really they’re my friends,” he shares. “I’m going to see them in church. I’m going to see them in the grocery store. I see them around town. I know their kids. As I’ve gotten older, I get to watch their kids’ kids coming in here. That’s a pretty cool deal.”
As a tire dealer, Gipson has also been able to get active in his community. The dealership participates in a variety of charities, but focuses a lot on the YMCA.
“If I worked in an office setting and didn’t get to see people, then I probably couldn’t do as much as I can now,” he says.
As for why he’s proud to be an independent tire dealer, there are several reasons for Gipson.
“I’m proud to be a tire dealer simply because I feel like I can offer a service and help people in my community. I’m proud to be a tire dealer because I’ve been able to associate my business with a top-notch organization. I can help people with their automobiles and I can help the community. I’m proud to be a tire dealer because that’s what I am,” he says.
Gipson is the 2015 chairman of the National Dealer Council for Tire Pros. He’s been a member of the council for several years, previously serving on as chairman for the National Council and Southeast Regional Council.
Greg Moore, owner of Discount Tire & Service Tire Pros in Terrell, Texas, started his career as a tax accountant. Moore joined the tire industry about 18 years ago and never looked back.
“I got started with another gentleman that had a tire store, he and I went in together and built [Discount Tire & Service],” Moore says. “I was training for about a year in his store to learn the trade and bought him out after three years.”
Over the years Moore has used his accounting background to help grow his tire dealership.
“Budgeting and forecasting have been the No. 1 advantage of having the background in accounting. Having the skills to manage my business by the numbers has been a blessing and has also created the desire to help others do the same within our Tire Pros group,” Moore shares.
Two programs Moore is particularly proud of creating for his employees are a deferred savings account and a bonus program.
Through the deferred savings program, employees do a payroll deduction and Moore will match that money with a check for a savings account, he says. The bonus program is set up for the counter staff, and if they hit their numbers, at the end of the month they receive a check.
“Being able to write them those checks for those bonuses really makes it all worth it,” Moore shares.
Other than helping his employees, Moore is proud to be a tire dealer who helps his customers.
“I like helping people. Especially for people where money is an issue, they don’t have the money to afford this or that,” he says. “Trying to guide people in the right direction and actually bringing some honesty and integrity into the industry is probably what I enjoy the most.”
Moore has been on the Tire Pros dealer councils since 2006. In 2009, he joined the National Council and served as president in 2014. Moore says he enjoys being part of the councils to help the behind the scenes to make Tire Pros better and help other dealers.
Nick Lenhart is a fourth-generation tire dealer who enjoys working for himself.
While growing up, Lenhart wasn’t sure he wanted to go into the family business because of the constant problems the owner faces. His father advised him, however, that being his own boss allowed him more flexibility to deal with business politics and problems.
“To some degree we can control our own destiny rather than working for someone else, within corporate ladders or different chains of command,” Lenhart shares.
Like many in their family tire business, Lenhart started at the dealership when he was young. Over the years he’s swept floors, cleaned tools and equipment, performed oil changes, towed cars, changed tires and worked as a service writer. Today, Lenhart co-owns Lenhart’s Tire Pros in North Huntington Township, Pa., with his father.
The shift from owner’s son to co-owner came with some adjustments.
“We tend to wear too many hats as owners. Sometimes I’m doing so many different things. You’re trying to run a business – look at financials and sales numbers – and at the same time when an issue arises you find yourself jumping in,” he explains. “I’ve been implementing systems and procedures to try and lesson some of that burden, so I can actually concentrate on running the business.”
Lenhart is proud to carry on his family’s legacy in the tire business and be a part of the community.
“I think we represent in so many ways, almost the American dream. We deal with sales and we deal with consumers on a daily basis. We’re deeply rooted in our communities,” he shares. “I feel proud that we have our business and we’ve been able to do it for 85 years – my great grandfather, my grandpa, my dad and me. There’s a big sense of pride in that. Being in the tire industry we get to meet generations of families and take car of their cars. We get to see everyone grow up and have an impact on our community.”
Lenhart has been involved with the dealer councils for three years. In 2016, he will serve as chairman of the National Dealer Council.