To say that Ronnie Lefevers, owner of Tires Plus Tire Pros in Morganton, NC, has been around tires almost his entire life is not an exaggeration by any stretch. The start of his lifelong love for this industry took hold as a teenager, where his afternoons, weekends and summers were spent changing tires at a small tire store, Johnny’s Tire Service, in Valdese, NC.
Ronnie also got the entrepreneurial bug as a 12-year-old little boy in 1973, when he shoveled coal into the furnace at Valdese Elementary School every day to earn his lunch.
One could say that his reverence for all things tires, and appetite for success at a young age, laid the foundation for the Tires Plus dealership he runs today.
Since franchising with Tire Pros in 2015 and after more than 20 years of doing business in Valdese, Tires Plus expanded into Morganton with the opening of a 19,200 sq.-ft., 12-bay dealership in July, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. It boasts a long list of replacement tire offerings, including passenger car tires, light truck tires, medium- and heavy-duty truck tires, farm and agriculture tires, custom rims, and related services such as wheel alignment, wheel balancing and tire repairs.
Outfitted with the latest equipment, the new dealership’s team can efficiently work on every job, says Ronnie, and provides a range of service offerings that includes alignments, muffler replacement, original and custom exhaust system installation, oil changes, tune-ups, brakes, hitches, transmission repair, engine repair, battery replacement, and state safety and emission inspections.
When asked how it felt to have opened a new shop during the pandemic, Ronnie takes things in stride.
“This was a very stressful situation; we did not know what to expect. Some days are better than others,” he said. “We have COVID-19 [protection] measures in place, such as adding Plexiglas to all counters and [thorough] cleaning. Thankfully, our local economy has remained strong and people continue to need tires and car repair. Our staff has remained healthy, and we are very thankful.”
To celebrate its newest location, Tires Plus hosted a grand opening celebration on July 4, as a means to connect with the community. “Our mission is to give back to the community that has given so much to us,” said Ronnie. With more than 1,000 people in attendance, the event offered free breakfast and lunch, vendor giveaways including eight sets of tires, wheels, brakes, oil changes and other items, and tires were sold to customers at cost—with more than 300 tires sold in a five-hour span.
Business continues on an upward trajectory, Ronnie says. “Sales for the month of July were double a typical month,” he exclaimed. “This was attributed to selling tires at cost at the grand opening. We’ve had a great month for August. Sales are steadily increasing and comparable to our Valdese location.”
Ronnie also has high expectations for the new shop in terms of business growth and success over the next year. “We expect a 20-25% increase,” he noted. “As with anything new, we needed to learn the best flow to operate, and we have had a few kinks to work out. As we become more settled, we will increase marketing to gain new customers.”
Ronnie’s daughter Christy Lefevers weighs in, beaming with admiration for this man of humble beginnings. “That little boy who shoveled coal to have a school lunch illustrates the entrepreneurial American Dream,” she said with a proud smile. “He is a living example that with hard work, openness to change, a heart to serve others and a willingness to make sacrifices, you can find success in business.”