As a young college student, Bobby Kahkesh once had a hand in building a Big O Tires Inc. store. He saw something he liked in the Colorado-based retailer and it stuck in his mind, which happened to think like a marketer.
Using his construction background (his father and business partner Manooch worked in construction), Mr. Kahkesh and his dad built their own Big O store in Guthrie, Okla. Since opening the doors on July 22, the outlet has done nearly $200,000 in sales.
``It's a whole lot more than we thought we'd be doing,'' he said. ``One, we've got a good location. Two, it has a lot to do with the way we treat our customers....They got what they needed done quickly.''
Mr. Kahkesh said his store did $88,000 in sales in its first two weeks, despite not advertising at all. ``We didn't even have phones working the first two weeks,'' he said.
He attributed that success to what attracted him to Big O: Customer service.
``This is an industry really lacking in customer service,'' he said.
Mr. Kahkesh said the Guthrie area, which is in metro Oklahoma City, was without a national tire retailer of any kind.
He said there were a few mom-and-pop-type stores, along with giant retailers such as Wal-Mart Inc. and Sears, Roebuck and Co. He said customers have been drawn to his store by the Big O brand and its accompanying warranty program.
Though he said he will sell any tire brand (if a customer wants it, he'll find it for them) and wheel, Mr. Kahkesh said 90 percent of the tires are the Big O brand. He said a typical sale involves comparing a Big O tire with another major brand side-by-side and showing the customer the only difference between the two might be a lower price.
``As soon as you can show them and sit the (major brand tire) next to the Big O tire, it's been a piece of cake to sell them a Big O tire,'' he said.
It was similar thinking that led Mr. Kahkesh and his father to the tire business. ``You have to have your vehicle running properly, and you have to have tires,'' he said. ``We thought it was a win-win situation.''
Using their construction background, the Kahkeshes built their own 6,000-sq.-ft., six-bay building. Bobby Kahkesh estimated that constructing their own building cost 30 to 50 percent less than it would have had someone else built it for them. The building is L-shaped with four service bays on one side and two bays on the short side of the building, which are designated for tires and oil changes.
The Kahkeshes' Big O store employs seven. The father-son duo is looking to expand in the Oklahoma City market in the near future. Bobby Kahkesh said they are in the process of looking for locations.
The people running Tulare Firestone needed more room for their Tulare, Calif., retail/commercial outlet, but there was none to be found.
So when an adjacent property became available, they jumped at the chance.
Thanks to the recent expansion, the nine-store chain now has a 24,000-sq.-ft., four-pull-through bay location that Marketing Director Kevin Pires said takes up a city block.
``It just wasn't conducive to the truck business,'' Mr. Pires said.
That is especially noteworthy in that Mr. Pires said two-thirds of the company's business is commercial. The additional space was necessary, if not mandatory.
Mr. Pires said the dealership's Exeter, Calif., location will undergo a similar facelift. That retail/commercial outlet will be a 14,000-sq.-ft., 10-bay location when it's finished.
The expanded location employs an additional five people, for a total of 35.
The company, which employs 90 in all, sells Bridgestone, Firestone, Dayton, Sumitomo and Denman brand tires. Mr. Pires said the dealership specializes in agricultural tires.
American Tire Distributors (ATD) has announced three winners in its HeafNet Rewards first anniversary sweepstakes.
Jimmy Maners, owner of Drum's Tire & Battery in Rock Hill, S.C., won the 1-million point grand prize. Forest Ratchford, owner of Ratchford Tire in Clarksville, Tenn., won the 100,000-point first prize, and Gene Boseck, wholesale manager of Tom Wilson Inc. in Bowie, Md., won the 10,000-point second prize.
More than 2,500 dealers are participating in HeafNet Rewards, a program that rewards dealers for using HeafNet Online, ATD's e-service offering.
Dealers earn points for every dollar they spend when they order tires, wheels and related products from HeafNet Online. Sweepstakes drawings were supervised by KS Promotions Inc. of Carlsbad, Calif.
``Winning the sweepstakes is a nice surprise,'' Mr. Maners said. ``My wife and I will probably use the points for appliances and maybe a cruise; there are a lot of things to choose from.''
Fountain Tire has purchased Edmonton-based Loveseth Automotive, a single store dealership that has served Edmonton since 1922.
Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. Loveseth is a Goodyear Select retailer selling Goodyear and Dunlop products.
The acquisition brings the number of Fountain Tire stores in Edmonton and surrounding areas to 15. Fountain Tire operates 145 total stores in western Canada and ranks fifth in Tire Business' rankings of North America's largest tire dealerships. In 2001 Fountain Tire posted sales of $262 million (Canadian).
``Loveseth Automotive has earned its reputation for honesty, service and value,'' said Brent Hesje, president of Fountain Tire, in a prepared statement. ``As an Edmonton-based business actively supporting all the communities where we do business, we're excited and proud to carry on delivering the same positive experience.''
Prior to Loveseth, Fountain Tire in July acquired Chorney Tire, which operated five stores in Winnepeg, Manitoba.
Loveseth's new store manager Michael Sands said the location has the potential for 30 bays on three levels with underground parking.