Rock-Solid Profits - Tire Review Magazine

Rock-Solid Profits

Everywhere across this land, men and women are turning ordinary trucks into

monstrous off-road vehicles capable of tackling terrain that would make a mountain goat tremble.

I recently had the opportunity to go on a trail ride with a friend, Rich Sterzoy, who owns Majestic Tires & Service in Mobile, Ala. Sterzoy started his business about six years ago with a modest-sized shop, and it has grown into one of the premier Jeep shops in town.

He took his passion for off-roading and turned a hobby into a lucrative business. He uses cross marketing to sell all of the essentials like wenches, lifts, axles, tires and wheels. He’ll even build a truck from the ground up.

Having the dexterity and expertise to do this kind of work – and, as we have mentioned many times in this space, being an active part of local clubs and events ®“ has placed Sterzoy’s business at the forefront in this market. Just passing by his store tells you what kind of focus this guy has.

The sign hints at what lies inside, while the custom-built Jeep, dubbed "Rock Rat," sits next to the street.

Mind you, this is not the only market to which Sterzoy caters. Passenger tires, light truck tires and performance tires and wheels are among the other products offered. Again, why get only a small piece of the pie when you can have the whole thing?

If you aren’t the kind who can fabricate special components and body panels, perhaps you could find and hire someone who is so inclined. How about leasing a part of your building to a custom fabricator? Each of you could benefit from the other’s customer base. You have the shop and facilities, they have the ability to modify or build the vehicles.

What’s in it for you? How about large ticket tire and wheel packages for starters. Sterzoy tells me that in the south, where it is often wet, TSL (Three Stage Lug) Super Swampers are a favorite tire to run for rock crawling and mud riding. Trucks with small engines will run 33- or 35-inch OD tires, he says, while the big V-8s can turn the 38- and 44-inchers.

"The average profit is $50 per tire with no road hazard warranty or lifetime balance," Sterzoy says. "We don’t even try to balance anything over 35 inches, because the customer knows they’re going to ride rough and they don’t care anyway."

"Compare that margin to $15 to $30 on most passenger or light truck tires," he says. "And because of their flexible sidewall, they’re quickly mounted."

A $200 profit and 30 minutes to mount a set of tires doesn’t sound too bad to me. And what about the wheels? Those Super Swampers run 15×10 up to 15×14 steel wheels. The cost for a set is relatively low, and if they’re bent on the trail, a big hammer will get them rolling again. Profits on wheels and accessories are a modest $70.

"The 16-inch wheels are available, as well, but the 16-inch bias-ply tire selection isn’t that good," Sterzoy goes on to say.

Bead-lock wheels are becoming more popular, as well. Although not street legal, they have advantages and disadvantages. The upside is that the tire gets sandwiched between the wheel and a lock ring with bolts. Lowering air pressure to get more bite on rocks can cause the tires to slip on standard wheels. This system keeps the tire firmly in place. The down side is that the bolts have to be constantly retorqued.

Some companies specialize in bead-lock systems using aluminum wheels and lock rings. The wheels are very strong and don’t bend easily compared to steel versions.

Also, for the ultimate in strength, there are new hot forged wheels from Alcoa. Under severe conditions, hot forged models are some of the strongest wheels made. The same process that makes wheels for the M1 tank and 747 jumbo jet goes into making these light truck wheels.

Along with the hard core enthusiast also comes the guy who wants to look big and bad, but for a different reason. Show trucks command as much attention for their looks as the serious off-road trucks. Check out the Toyota 4×4 pictured here.

With a lift kit, Mickey Thompson tires, Boyd’s wheels, custom graphics and high-end stereo – this truck will see very few trails. But it will be in front of the mall and at local hang outs where others will see it and want to know who built the truck and installed the components.

Sterzoy sold the tires and wheels for this truck. Total ticket was over $2,500. In this case, the truck was already built. Sterzoy took a little extra time, made some careful measurements, and a few weeks later the wheels arrived. Another satisfied customer who will bring more potential customers to the door.

Speaking of bringing people to the door. Take a look at this storefront. Plenty of signage letting customers know what major brands are carried. Many of these signs can be paid in part or completely with co-op money. Check with your supplier for marketing opportunities.

You can realize many opportunities using these same marketing ideas for your business. If you have some creative ways you use to market your business and products, e-mail me with a picture at [email protected]. I’d like to know how the best of the best are thriving in today’s economy and marketplace.

Who knows, maybe you’ll be our next example of a tire guy succeeding by taking it a few steps further.

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