HUDSON, Ohio-Mueller Tire's goal is succinct: ``To be your lifetime tire store.'' Now the family-owned tire retailer wants to fulfill that goal for even more Northeast Ohioans than ever before.
``We'd like to get another three stores in the northeastern Ohio area,'' Dean Mueller, company vice president, said matter-of-factly.
But perhaps that understates the expansion project the dealership has been pursuing for more than a year.
The company, founded in Cleveland in 1918 by Walter J. Mueller, remained entrenched in and around the city with a handful of stores for most of its 78 years. Slowly, however, it has broken out, opening outlets in Strongsville, Mentor and, most recently, Hudson, Ohio.
The firm's store roster currently lists eight Mueller Tire and one Outlet Tire locations.
The recent growth spurt, however, hasn't distracted the Mueller family from focusing on their customers, Mr. Mueller said.
In fact, the layout of the new Hudson location-which opened about June 1-is typical of Mueller Tire's commitment to customer service and satisfaction.
The eight-bay Hudson outlet stores 2,000 tires and employs 10, according to Store Manager Matt Bulkoski.
A circular service desk sits in the middle of a bright, naturally lit showroom. Around the edges of the room lie tire displays divided into light truck, high performance and broadline sections.
One corner of the showroom is used as the customer waiting area with free coffee, magazines and a children's building-block table.
The dominant feature of the building, however, is a semi-circular tower that bows out from the center of the storefront and is filled with a custom wheel display.
``Customers should feel comfortable in the showroom,'' Mr. Bulkoski said.
The company, which refers to itself as a ``ride-control service center'' in its free Automotive Service Guide, specializes in service work on tires, wheels, alignments, brakes and shocks with ASE-certified technicians, Mr. Mueller said.
Among the equipment in the new outlet's service area is a state-of-the-art FMC undercar diagnostic machine that examines vehicles' alignments, shocks/struts and brakes in about five minutes, Mr. Bulkoski noted.
The equipment, which is one of only four such machines in the country, according to Mr. Bulkoski, is being evaluated for possible inclusion in other Mueller Tire outlets.
Mr. Mueller declined to comment on immediate expansion plans, except to say the company's goal is to blanket ``upscale'' consumers in northeastern Ohio.
Hudson-an historic old village that has evolved into an upscale, bedroom community-definitely fits the mold. Sitting only about 25 miles southeast of Cleveland, many Hudson residents already were familiar with Mueller Tire, he said.
``Our attempt is to open (new outlets) on time, but there are always problems,'' he said, noting the store opened behind its original schedule. ``A lot of customers (in Hudson) commented. They wanted it open.''
``The community seemed to accept the store,'' Mr. Mueller added.
That's a typical response for Mueller Tire, however, which boasts a 99.6 percent customer satisfaction rating.
The company said it continually monitors customer satisfaction using follow-up phone calls. That information then helps determine individual store satisfaction ratings and monthly employee service bonuses.