Tirecraft Auto Centers Ltd., an Edmonton, Alberta-based company with more than 165 locations spread primarily over the western provinces of Canada, recently took part in Habitat for Humanity's Women Build program.
With a donation of $60,000, the company helped pay for construction of a duplex, which is now the proud property of two single-parent Calgary, Alberta, families with a total of six children.
``It isn't for people who are living on the streets and are very poor,'' said Holly Husel, Tirecraft database marketing coordinator and the company's spokeswoman for the project. ``It is people who can bring in a wage and make low payments on the house. They're on site helping.''
The Women Build program involved more than 425 volunteers from Canada and the U.S., all women, who built the two-family structure from the ground up. Ms. Husel estimated that the Calgary property would be worth around $200,000 (Can.) if purchased.
Tirecraft's donation came from the corporate headquarters, but Ms. Husel said it was considered to be from the entire company. Several employees from the main office helped in the construction, she added.
Included in the project were a Tirecraft day and a golf outing. The home was dedicated Aug. 18 and Tirecraft presented its sponsored family with the keys that day.
Tirecraft has been involved with Habitat for Humanity for 11 years, Ms. Husel said, but this was the first year the company ``stepped up and went a little more public with it.'' She said employees at the individual stores couldn't volunteer as easily because of their work schedule.
Tirecraft is among Canada's largest independent tire dealerships. It sells Michelin, BFGoodrich, Uniroyal, Merit, Hankook, General, Pirelli and Toyo passenger and light truck tires, and Michelin, BFGoodrich, Titan and Kleber farm tires.
Somewhat overcome by the cost of advertising in a major metro market, Rob Damen called on a hired gun. Sort of.
Owner of Kirkland, Wash.-based Tires Plus, Mr. Damen has turned his three-store dealership into a trio of Big O Tires stores. He said he made the switch to the Big O franchise ``basically because of the combined advertising power....In the Seattle market we can't really afford the advertising,'' he said.
By joining Big O, Mr. Damen's dealership got its stores remodeled, giving them what he called ``a much more professional look.''
He said the early advertising boost-he made the transition to Big O earlier this summer-seemed to be helping thus far, but added it was too early to tell for sure how much.
He also was enticed by a Big O program that creates ways for store managers to buy the stores. That way, when the 59-year-old Mr. Damen retires, he can keep his stores somewhat in-house.
A 36-year tire industry veteran, he has owned his dealership for 19 years, starting in Kirkland and adding his other locations over the next 13 years.
His three stores are in Kirkland (4,200 square feet, seven bays), Bellevue (4,500 square feet, six bays) and Renton (4,500 square feet, six bays).
He employs 19, excluding clerical workers. Cooper is the company's primary brand, and it also sells Michelin and BFGoodrich tires, in addition to the Big O brand. He hopes to eventually start selling mostly Big O tires.
The company is primarily a retail dealership, with full auto service, except for engine work. Mr. Damen said he does some wholesaling to car dealers, gas stations and other tire dealers, but said it doesn't account for a lot of his business.