Jamie Ward is a true tire guy. From the time he was a young boy, he worked for his grandfather, a firefighter who ran an auto shop out of his garage. He learned the ropes there, and by age 15, he had the skills equivalent to an ASE-qualified Master Technician. But Jamie didn’t stop there. His passion and energy for the business has catapulted him to president and CEO of Tire Discounters, where he has been an instrumental part of growing the business from eight stores when he started to the over 175 locations the dealership has today…including its foray into the car wash business.
As a leader in Tire Discounters’ growth, Jamie says the years working in a shop environment helped inform each decision he makes today. He is grateful for the mechanical know-how he learned from his grandfather and at Michel Tire Co. in Cincinnati, where he also learned sales and realized he could make a good living in the tire business.
In 1995, Ward joined Tire Discounters as a salesman when the business’ founder, Chip Wood, had eight stores. Over the years, he worked his way up the ranks from regional director to the head of the business in January 2016. Today, he looks to instill the best practices in customer service he’s learned over the years as he and the Tire Discounters team work to expand the dealership’s footprint.
In this episode of Johnny g & Friends, presented by Firestone, Jamie shares how he learned the auto business from a young age, the toughest parts of growing a multi-location business and what he enjoys most about being in the tire industry today.
- What Jamie learned working from his grandfather, a Cincinnati firefighter who ran an auto shop out of his garage on the side (1:41)
- How Johnny g helped Jamie’s first employer, Tony Michel of Michel’s Tire Co., expand his business (4:03)
- Jamie’s start at Tire Discounters and what he found attractive about the business and Chip Wood’s leadership style (5:34)
- How Jamie helped open 60 Tire Discounters locations in about 10 years and what the programs and systemized processes he helped the business adopt throughout its growth (5:44)
- Jamie’s role in helping Tire Discounters double down on growth, opening 10-15 locations per year starting in the early 2010s (9:26)
- Tire Discounters’ growth strategy and goals for the business’s growth this year (12:51)
- Challenges that have come with rapid growth and why it’s important to have people from non-tire backgrounds work in a tire store (15:04)
- Why Jamie considers himself a “student of the business” (17:35)
- What Jamie thinks is the hardest thing to teach others about the tire business (20:11)
- The biggest challenges that exist for independent tire dealers, including Tire Discounters, today (24:14)