VENTURA, Calif.-Daniel Beach certainly has the qualities of a successful entrepreneur: confidence, knowledge and a desire to succeed. Add to that list a descriptive term many might not associate with some of the country's most successful businessmen: humility.
The president and CEO of Parnelli Jones Inc., and former owner of Dob's Tire & Auto Centers, readily admits that the business he now operates is not the best in the land and, to a large extend, not how he had envisioned it would be when he opened his first outlet nearly 20 years ago.
``Other people have grown and done a better job than we have,'' Mr. Beach said plainly during an interview with TIRE BUSINESS in August.
Still, his retailing business has come quite a way from the first Dob's Tire and Auto Center outlet he opened in 1976 in Ventura County, Calif. He distinctly remembers a newspaper reporter asking him how far he thought his business would go shortly after opening that first outlet in an area he picked because it was ``a great place to live.''
His answer: ``We (want) to have a chain of 100 tire stores.''
Approaching 20 years in the tire business, Mr. Beach still isn't operating 100 stores.
But don't think he's disappointed-94 will do just fine.
Mr. Beach has been president and CEO of Parnelli Jones since he merged his 59-store Dob's Tire chain with former Indianapolis 500-winner Parnelli Jones' 35 stores in 1993.
It was an important point in the career of the man who originally thought quite differently about his emerging business.
Mr. Beach will tell you that he expected his expansion to come from new construction, something like a McDonald's Corp. of the tire business, and not through the ``16 or 18 buyouts of independents'' that have marked his dealership's 18-year history.
He will tell you that he never expected to be competing against mass merchandisers like Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Wal Mart Inc., which he said have become more ``proficient'' at selling tires than he had predicted.
And he will tell you that he hadn't seriously contemplated merging his business until just prior to the 1993 linking with Parnelli Jones. In fact, to many owners, ``merger'' means the loss of their own identity.
``I thought about losing the name (with the merger),'' he admitted. ``But that's a personal thing. As a business decision, it was the right thing to do....
``I never did think Dob's was a very strong name,'' Mr. Beach said. ``There are very few names that have some real (consumer) awareness.'' Among them, he contends, is Parnelli Jones.
It is that ability to look objectively at business situations that has helped him survive in the rapidly changing tire market.
Although admitting Parnelli Jones ``is not the best tire retailer'' in the nation, he still considers himself, and the company, extremely successful. And he's not alone in that feeling.
TIRE BUSINESS ranked Parnelli Jones as North America's eighth-largest independent tire dealership with its 92 company-owned stores in California, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas. Estimated retail sales last year landed around $61.5 million.
That figure is expected to grow slightly, he said, as the dealership finishes its conversion of the former Dob's outlets to ``Parnelli Jones Express Tire Service'' signage. The company will continue to focus on its ``piece-of-mind-shopping'' marketing strategy that he said provides customers with quick service and an ``all-inclusive'' price.
It's important to develop a consistent customer base, he contends-more so now than ever-because he believes smaller independents will continue to be gobbled up by larger ones.
``I do think there is going to be more consolidation,'' he said. ``There will be more than one chain with 250 stores. That day is coming sooner rather than later.''
Parnelli Jones itself plans to add 10 to 12 stores next year in California and Nevada.
And one of those stores will be the 100th Mr. Beach has been waiting for.