DES MOINES, Iowa-What's in a name? Everything if you're Jordan Flatt.
Based in Des Moines, Mr. Flatt's two-store operation labors under the marquee bearing the name ``Flatt Tire Centers,'' and accompanied by the slogan, ``You Too Should Ride On A Flatt.'' It's a catchphrase that fits the dealership to an extra T.
Flatt Tire has been around since World War II, when Jay Flatt, Jordan's father, sort of stumbled into the tire business. As Jordan Flatt tells it, the elder Flatt, along with his father and brothers, dabbled in tires because ``there was a need'' in Des Moines at that time. An uncle had a large retreading facility and soon it became somewhat of a family business.
Jordan Flatt wasn't exactly sure how-other than the obvious link to the family name-that Flatt Tire was settled on, nor did he know if any other choices were considered to potentially take the place of the dubious-sounding moniker. In the end, like many of their customers, they were stuck with a Flatt. It seems to have paid off thus far.
``It is a catchy name,'' said Jordan Flatt, who has been in partnership with his father since 1992 and now is vice president of the company. ``Once you hear it you remember it. People say things like, `I've got got a flat,' stuff like that.''
Anyone driving around on a Flatt in the Des Moines area is likely riding on a Cooper tire, since that's the primary brand the dealership handles. But the two stores do sell just about all brands (Michelin, BFGoodrich and Uniroyal being the most prominent after Cooper).
Flatt Tire does no retreading, despite its roots in that sector, but it does sell used tires. Terming them ``near new'' tires, Mr. Flatt said his store sells ``anything with three-quarter tread left,'' adding that the used-tire business is booming.
``It's growing every day,'' he said, especially in the 16- and 17-inch performance variety. ``Maybe they're only going to keep the car for a while longer. Who wants to throw down $700 for a set of tires on an old car? We sell a lot of singles. We can match up virtually anything.''
That's possible because of his warehouse stocked with 10,000 used tires. It's the used-tire business, primarily, that keeps Flatt Tire from becoming Flatt Auto Service. Strictly a retail operation, Flatt is a tires-only dealership with 15 employees. Mr. Flatt said he would like to expand at some point, but sees auto service becoming only a minor part of his operation.
``We're very, very fast. Our turnaround time is 20 minutes,'' he said, noting the quick service as key to his stores' success. ``I'm not a real big fan of (auto service). We try to do the exact opposite of what people say is right. It just seems to work that way.''