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New American Wheel and Tire location has dandy "Candy Room'

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HOUSTON—After more than 20 successful years in business, Houston-based American Wheel and Tire is moving to a larger location.

Mike Gust started American Wheel and Tire in 1985, when he was just two years out of high school.

“I've been sort of growing it ever since,” said Mr. Gust about his expanding business, which he started as a used tire shop and then progressed into the wheel business. As the company continued to get bigger, he created a wholesale branch, Wheel & Tire Designs, in 1999. He also started branching into eCommerce around the same time.

In 2000, Mr. Gust moved the business across the street from the original location and stayed there at 9550 Hempstead Highway in Houston until this past June, when he opened his new location, a 23,000-sq.-foot facility located at 11350 Northwest Freeway in Houston.

“I put my wholesale branch and my retail (store) together,” Mr. Gust explained about the new location, which he bought in 2007 for an undisclosed amount, hoping to create the mega store. When the state decided to widen Hempstead Highway, Mr. Gust said he thought it to be the opportune time for the move.

“We've got a 7,000-sq.-ft. show room,” he said, with about 1,000 to 1,500 wheels on display in the industria-styled room.

The store sits on 2.5 acres off a major freeway and has a 200-foot LED sign to broadcast specials to those driving by. It is equipped with the ability to pull a car into the showroom, and has 10 service bays, 25-foot ceilings that allow inventory storage, large-screened TVs to stream video, a break room and lunch room for staff and a conference room with a 50-inch LED television for presentations.

The amenities of the store allow the company to perform services, including wheel and tires, truck accessories, lift kits and window tinting.

“One thing that I did was put all new furniture fixtures, computers, desk, chairs etc.,” explained Mr. Gust. “I wanted all my employees to walk into a brand new setting in every way. Everyone is really enjoying the new facility.”

Mr. Gust said the store also has a “Candy Room” for more extravagant, high-end purchases.

“The Candy Room is full of all different sizes, styles and colors,” he said. “It is for that guy or gal who wants to treat himself or herself to a little extra....

“Everything in it is high end; we have a desk and a huge monitor in the middle of the room where we sit down with the customer and help them come up with a one-of-a-kind ideal for their ride.”

Overall, Mr. Gust explained the success of his business is based on the theory of having stock on site. “We have it when the customer walks in,” he said.

Mr. Gust is planning a grand opening event for February 2013 and is considering expanding outside Houston, but he has no definite plans in place.



To reach this reporter: jkarpus@crain.com; 330-865-6143.
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Previous | Published December 6, 2018

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