After much contemplation and research, Mr. Troupe told Tire Business, he sold his interest in a California freight brokerage to open Great West Tire & Lube L.L.C. in Williston last November. The independent Goodyear commercial tire dealership is located amid an expanse of wheat fields and oil fields — home to "fracking," the slang term for hydraulic fracturing.
"In a nutshell, we're only benefitting because of (the oil fields). That's the reason we came up to this area," Mr. Troupe said.
He is confident he can make a profit selling commercial tires and services to the oil field companies, despite the challenges of the oil boom.
"The hard part is the cost of employees — it's ungodly high," he said. "The cost of buildings to rent or own is the same. It's just crazy. It's more expensive to do business here than it is anywhere else, even California."
But he said he believes he can turn a profit.
"It's definitely a big risk. Coming in two or three years ago was a whole different ball game because there was not enough here to even handle the work. Now companies are more focused on service and price, but the price for housing and real estate is still going up."
He now has seven employees and four service trucks offering 24/7 on-site services. So far the snow and frigid winter weather has been putting a strain on the equipment and the employees out in the fields, he said. The dealership sells commercial and light truck tires to operators of transport trucks, which often require tire replacements due to the rugged roads they traverse to and from the oil fields.
Business has been brisk, and he foresees acquiring more trucks and hiring additional employees. The latter, he said, could be more difficult as the boom has swallowed up most of the available local labor force, forcing him to recruit from elsewhere.
"I don't have any employees that are from this area. They're from every different state. I have to provide housing for them, which is ungodly expensive. There's no labor force here whatsoever. It's all taken up. Everyone has to recruit from out-of-town, out-of-state for the most part," he said.
Competition is also coming in from elsewhere to take advantage of the demand for tire service. So how does the brand-new dealership compete?
"Keep our prices good and keep our service top notch. I mean, that's the only way we are going to be able to compete and we've got that part down. My biggest concern is to offer good service at a good price. Great service, I should say," Mr. Troupe said.
"People up here have not had good service in the past simply because there was too much demand. So when we came into the market—obviously we weren't here at the beginning of the boom—but our focus is on, 'Hey, we're going to offer you great service and we're going to take care of our clients on the commercial end.'
"And so far so good."
To reach this reporter: [email protected]; 330-865-6127.