``I don't really like patting myself on the back,'' Dan Harper said modestly of the accomplishment of his family-owned tire store marking its 75-year anniversary.
Dan, 43, and his brother Tom, 42, grandsons of Harper Tire Ltd. founder John Munro ``Jack'' Harper, are co-owners and the third generation of the Harper family to run the business, which includes one retail store in Calgary and a nearby wholesale division.
``We've done really well because of the good group of people we work with,'' Dan Harper said, noting that the dealership's staff is friendly, knowledgeable and focused on customer service.
What keeps customers coming back?
``Trying to make people enjoy a less-than-enjoyable experience,'' he said, since automotive repair is usually something done out of necessity, not by choice.
The two brothers have a staff of 22, including one man who has worked for the company for 27 years. ``We're glad to have him,'' Dan Harper said.
As for the date of the original store opening, that seems to differ depending on who is asked. Dan Harper said his father, Stan Harper, believes it to be in November while he thinks it was earlier.
One thing is certain: The dealership's success has been built on the foundation and principles taught by his father and grandfather, Dan Harper said. ``My dad and my grandpa did a great job with building up the business and teaching my brother and me work ethic,'' he said.
After serving in World War I, Jack Harper returned home to take a job with the old Fisk Tire. When an opportunity arose in 1931, he purchased Foster's Vulcanizing in Calgary, renaming the business Harper's Tire Service. He retired in 1961, turning over the reins to his son Stan.
The dealership moved in 1980 from its original location to a larger 13,000-sq.-ft. facility that has 10 service bays and offers full tire and mechanical service. The outlet, which also does a ``small bit'' of commercial tire service, carries all major tire brands but primarily BFGoodrich, Uniroyal and Michelin.
Dan Harper said he is always thinking about expanding his facilities but is conscious of the sluggish economy. If the store were to expand, Dan Harper said he would remain in Calgary.
``Right now we'd be happy if we can find a spot for a second location. We're pushing forward and trying to maintain a good thing,'' he said.
In February, the company opened a 10,000-sq.-ft. distribution center in Calgary for its wholesale operation. There it stockpiles upwards of 12,000 tires for its estimated 200 to 300 dealer customers, he added.
Following in his grandfather's and father's footsteps, Dan Harper has served twice as president of the Western Canada Tire Dealers Association (WCTDA), first in 1999-2000. Jack Harper was WCTDA president from 1962 to 1963, and Stan Harper for the 1979-1980 term.