TEMPE, Ariz. — The foundation of Sun Auto Tire & Service's success can be summarized in three words: Putting people first.
That is the core foundation of the aftermarket automotive repair, maintenance and tire business that has grown to more than 350 retail locations, predominantly in the Southwest.
The business, founded in 2018 as GB Automotive and rebranded this past June, has become a major player in the industry, ranked as the 12th largest retail tire chain in North America.
In 2021 alone, Sun Auto Tire acquired 11 automotive service and retail tire dealerships, entering 12 new states and adding 180 locations to its portfolio.
The one constant, however, has been the company's strong belief in treating its employees well.
"If we want to grow the business and continue to be successful, the way to do that is through our employees," Carolyn Barnard, vice president of human resources, said. "We have a people-first mentality."
Barnard joined Sun Auto Tire in 2019 after it had acquired the automotive dealership where she had worked for more than seven years — Lamb's Tire & Automotive Service in Austin, Texas.
She said Sun Auto's people-first attitude excites her both as an HR executive and as an employee. She said Sun's focus on people is "my passion. I am able to do that here, and I have the support of the leadership here."
That mantra is one of the reasons Sun Auto was named a finalist in the Tire Business Best Places to Work survey.
The Best Places to Work survey is conducted by Best Companies Group (BCG), an independent research firm specializing in identifying and recognizing great places to work.
In order to participate in the survey, each business must be a retail, commercial, OTR, retread or wholesale tire dealership in the U.S., and have at least 15 employees. Each owner submits an online survey detailing company policies, practices, benefits and demographics. Employees, meanwhile, are asked to complete, a series of questions,rating the company.
Tire Group International was named the overall winner, while other finalists include (in alphabetical order): Best One of Indy, Indianapolis; Big O Tires, Columbia, Mo.; Monteith's Best One Tire & Auto Care, Elkhart, Ind.; SimpleTire L.L.C. of Trevose, Pa.; and Sun Auto Tire & Service Inc, Phoenix.
Sun Auto, a portfolio company of Leonard Green & Partners, a Los Angeles-based private equity group, was judged in part from feedback from the 180-plus employees at its corporate offices in Phoenix and Tempe.