As a third-generation tire dealer, Nate Benham’s family business has been a reliable partner to the Sparta, Michigan, community. Nate’s grandfather founded the company in 1952, and since then, it has amassed third- and fourth-generation clientele.
As a pillar in the community, Sparta Tire & Automotive must have reliable suppliers and partners to keep its customers in Sparta rolling. That’s why he and his family have partnered with K&M Tire.
We caught up with Nate, the business’s general manager, at the 2023 K&M Tire Dealer Conference & Trade Show to learn more about his family’s business and how he sees its relationship with K&M Tire as a support system for the business.
TR: Nate, you’re a third-generation tire dealer, so I’d imagine you were born into the business? Tell us how you got started in the industry.
Nate Benham, general manager of Sparta Tire & Automotive: Yes, but not intending to really be in it. The story is that my dad told me, “Go do something else and find something you enjoy. This shouldn’t be it.” Instead, I ended up coming back around and saying, “Hey, let’s give it a go.” So that was a little over 20 years ago, and it stuck.
TR: Nice. Tell us a little bit about the business’s history.
NB: In 1952, my grandpa opened up a City Services Gas Station in town, and we’ve been in town ever since. We’ve moved a couple of buildings, but we’ve been in our current spot a little over 30 years, and this past summer, we celebrated 70 years in business as Sparta Tire Service.
We’ve been blessed to have a great customer base all that time and lots of third and a few even fourth- generation customers.
TR: That’s great. Tell me about your space and the work that you guys do there.
NB: We’re a full-service automotive store, and we’re also a tire dealer, but we’ve got seven service bays and three and a half technicians. We do everything from engines to tires and everything in between except for diesel work.
For tires, we do passenger, light truck and that’s it. No agricultural. None of the big over-the-road stuff.
TR: Tell me about how your business gives back to the community.
NB: Really in sponsorships with school sports and stuff. We try and sponsor all kinds of neat activities, whether it be things with the schools, with sports, downtown activities. Our town has a ton of great Chamber of Commerce events, and we participate with that as often as we can to whatever level that we can to help.
TR: Nate, Sparta Tire & Service has a pretty long relationship with K&M. So, tell us about your relationship with them and what makes them a good partner to have in the tire business.
NB: Well, K&M has been great to us over the years. They’ve got a broad range of tire brands that are available. One of the big things that helps us is when we have somebody come in looking for something specific [a specific tire], we likely can buy it from K&M. They’re real supportive of us. The Mr. Tire program has been fantastic with lots of different promotions, so we appreciate that. And the people—we have a lot of relationships with their people for over the last 15 years. They take good care of us.
For more information on the K&M Tire Mr. Tire/Big 3 Tire Top Shop program, go to mrtiretopshop.com.