The unfortunate reality is that unless they were born into a family owning a tire dealership or have a relative working in one, few people would look to this industry for a career.
It's not that working in a tire dealership is undesirable. In fact many in this field love their careers and find them challenging yet rewarding. It's just that few people outside the tire business understand or even think about working in a tire dealership.
For some, it's likely viewed as hard and dirty work even though many of today's independent tire dealerships are as well run, clean and inviting as any other modern retail outfit.
With millions of people looking for jobs today as a result of the economic downturn, layoffs and outsourcing, tire dealers should take a more aggressive approach to promoting their dealerships as professional places to work that offer good-paying jobs and opportunity for advancement.
At the same time downsized professionals are struggling to find well-paying, challenging jobs, many large tire dealerships are searching desperately for qualified tire technicians, counter personnel, store and middle managers so they can expand. This is true not only in the U.S. but Canada as well.
A Tire Business survey of the 100 largest independent tire dealerships in North America makes this point. When asked, ``What are the most significant issues facing your dealership?'' nearly 40 percent of respondents cited the lack of ``qualified'' or ``quality'' job candidates.
This is the case at Flynn's Tire Co., a Mercer, Pa., independent dealership with nine retail stores, three wholesale centers, seven commercial/retail centers and a retread plant. ``We're going to grow by the people we have to grow,'' said President Joe Flynn III.
Another dealer, Dominic Umek, general manager of Conrad's Total Car Care and Tire Centers, a 27-store retail chain based in Cleveland, said finding qualified people is an issue whether a dealership's growing by two or 200 stores a year. However, the important factor is having a strong core staff, or ``bench strength,'' to facilitate growth.
``Certainly the stronger your bench strength is, the more rapidly you can grow,'' he said.
Independent tire dealerships have a great story to tell. Many are growing rapidly and need qualified personnel to help them expand. But rather than just lament the lack of good applicants, they should get the word out to those looking for work.
One way might be through their state tire dealer associations, which could hold job fairs for their dealer members looking to hire.
Displaced job seekers may not know the tire business, but if they've had successful careers in other industries, there's little doubt they could adapt to the rigors of a retail or commercial tire business-assuming they are willing to work at it.