There’s no one secret recipe for business success. Sure, hard work has tons to do with it. Luck helps. And in the case of S&S Tire, you can’t have a successful three-generation business without having a solid foundation. For this Kentucky-based tire distributor, that foundation started with Paul Swentzel, co-founder of S&S Tire who has also helped other dealers and distributors in the industry get started with their own businesses.
A household name in the tire industry, Paul founded S&S Tire with his business partner, Don Schneider, in 1974. They started out wholesaling tires out of a 9,000-square-foot warehouse in Lexington, Kentucky, and since then, the business has grown to 12 distribution centers across 10 states, 20 commercial truck centers, three retread plants and three retail locations.
Paul first met Johnny g in the ’70s, and since then, the two have taken their relationship from business to an enduring friendship. Get to know Paul, his wit, how he got started in the industry and how he’s managed to create a growing distribution business in the heart of the Bluegrass State in the latest episode of Johnny g & Friends.
In this episode, Paul and Johnny g delve into:
- How they met and how Paul bought 25,000 tires from Johnny g at the 11th hour to help Bridgestone meet its sales goals [1:50]
- Paul’s journey to becoming a Firestone dealer and the mentors he had in the industry along the way [4:00]
- With $50,000, a prayer and hard work, how Paul and Don Schneider started S&S Tire and how Paul’s relationship with Paul Zurcher played a huge role in his success [5:58]
- Paul’s eagerness to help others get started in the business and how he did it [7:25]
- How Paul overcame his biggest challenges in the tire business through forming relationships [8:10]
- Brooks Swentzel, Paul’s son and current president of S&S Tire, describes S&S Tire’s business today, his philosophy on serving the business’ dealer customers and what he’s learned from his dad over the years [10:13]
- Brock Swentzel, Paul’s grandson and the company’s manager of supply chain, explains how the pandemic has impacted S&S Tire and how he and his team work with manufacturers on tire supply and why he joined the family business [14:31]
- Fun and funny memories Paul and Johnny g have made over the years — from winning golf tournaments to forming relationships with celebrities like Arnold Palmer and Walter Payton as well as dealers both big and small [17:42]
- Changes Paul has seen in the tire business from when he founded it to now and the importance of his son and grandsons (Brock and Austin Swentzel) adding capabilities to the business over the years [21:31]
- How Paul created a community within the S&S tire dealer base [23:46]
- How Paul helped Johnny g create Tire Stars, Bridgestone’s rewards program for distributors [24:50]