HUNTINGTON, W.Va.-There's a theme at Hunters Inc. And it's not that Huntington-based Hunters Inc. is owned and operated by the Hunters, who have made Hunter Engineering Co. their choice for equipment.
That's more of a coincidence.
It's the recently founded commercial/ retail dealership's ``family'' theme that didn't come by chance, President Harold Hunter said.
``If you can help your family, you should,'' Mr. Hunter said explaining the rationale behind opening his own store that, one day, will be passed on to his two sons. ``They are the ones who need it (the money).''
Mr. Hunter and his sons, Anthony, who runs the retail business, and Tracy, who runs the commercial business, have spent most of their lives around tires.
Mr. Hunter, himself, started with BFGoodrich in 1961 and worked later for an independent dealer and Bandag Inc. before becoming a 49-percent owner of Monk Brothers Tire Co., which does business in Huntington as Tic Toc Tire Co.
He left Monk Brothers in March and opened Hunters Inc. Aug. 1.
Some who know Mr. Hunter-and the fact that his real estate holdings include a 10-store mini-mall-told him he's got to be crazy to continue on in the tire business.
``A lot of people say we're gluttons for punishment for getting back in the tire business. But it's all we know. So why not?'' he joked. ``There's money (to be made) in it.''
That is, of course, if the company succeeds.
Though only open for three weeks at the time Mr. Hunter spoke with TIRE BUSINESS, Hunters Inc. has already begun establishing itself as a friendly business in a ``family-oriented'' town of about 60,000.
``Everybody likes to be called by their name,'' Mr. Hunter said explaining his business philosophy.
The dealership hopes to target its service at small commercial businesses that operate ``three or four pickup trucks,'' he said.
The firm operates out of a 7,500-sq.-ft. building with space for about eight service bays-for both retail and commercial tire service-and employs six, not including the three Hunters.
On the retail end, Hunters Inc. hopes to make its mark among female customers. Mr. Hunter has been interviewing women who stop by the outlet to find out ``what they wanted in a shop.''
``Their main theme is cleanliness,'' he said. Following the comments of one woman, who said she shied away from dimly lit shops, Mr. Hunter installed two additional showroom lights.
The extra work is to be expected, Mr. Hunter lamented. Establishing a new business can be difficult in a town the size of Huntington.
``What it amounts to is: When we opened up, we had to steal business from somebody else,'' he said. ``But I think there's room for everybody.''
The dealership already has growth plans ``on the drawing board,'' although Mr. Hunter declined to comment on them.
It's impossible to judge success so early in the dealership's existence-the firm still is waiting for many of its storefront signs to be installed.
But Mr. Hunter believes his family's experience and marketing ideas will help him fulfill his ultimate goals.
``The bottom line is how much money we're all going to take home,'' he said. ``I want to feel comfortable when I retire. . . (and) I want something for my children to take over.''