Cowser Tire — the name is a carryover from an existing business Davis' father, Mike Davis, acquired in the mid-1980s — has established accounts with lots of smaller fleets (no more than 10 trucks) in the company's business footprint, which Davis said stretches out about 100 miles in all directions from the shop's location near the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport.
That business model works to Cowser Tire's advantage in more than one way, Davis said.
Besides the obvious — tires — Cowser Tire has seen a marked uptick in mechanical business from its fleet customers, especially in the past few years.
"We honestly didn't see the growth of the truck mechanical business that's come our way," Davis said. "Fleets, especially the smaller ones, are outsourcing that more and more. Larger fleets have their own mechanics — we might get their overflow from time to time — but smaller fleets don't have their own mechanics."
One other benefit from developing and fostering good relations with smaller fleets is less obvious — retail sales.
"Anyone who has a fleet of trucks," Davis noted, "they and their employees all have cars that need servicing as well." That angle can add up to thousands of potential customers who already are familiar with Cowser Tire.
Cowser Tire branched into retreading in 2016 with the opening of a Goodyear system plant in a 30,000-sq.-ft. structure located a block or two from the dealership's main building.
That decision has paid solid dividends ever since, Davis said, but especially in the past couple of years during the supply-chain crisis and tire shortages.
"I think during the cycle — with prices high and supply short — people took a second look at retreading," Davis said, noting the company experienced unanticipated rapid growth in that business.
"We feel retreading is going to keep growing," he said, "despite tire prices coming down and supplies improving.
"You'd be surprised," he said, "but there are new people going into the trucking business, (and it's) shocking how many don't know anything about retreading. It's a big opportunity for us."
His confidence in the retread business led to his decision to expand the business with the addition of a third curing chamber. To effect that, Cowser Tire plans to build a dedicated structure for the expanded retread production. Davis hopes to have construction on that project under way by this summer.
Once the retread business is relocated into the new 30,000-sq.-ft structure, to be built on the same seven-acre plot where the existing plant resides, Cowser Tire will convert the vacated space to another profit center, wheel refurbishing.
Cowser Tire also has built up a substantial business in servicing forklifts and other materials-handing equipment with solid tires. "We've become the go-to guys when businesses have no clue where else to turn," Davis said.
The day Tire Business spoke with Davis, he was still recovering from the effects of a COVID infection, which led to the question: How did Cowser Tire fare during the pandemic?
"Honestly," Davis said, "we barely skipped a beat.
"We're open six days a week, and we closed a few Saturdays during COVID when the drive-up business faded away. But we do a lot of fleet checks on Saturday, and since trucking was deemed a necessary business, we had to be here as well."
Plus, he noted, Cowser Tire offers 24/7 roadside assistance, so those employed in that line of work had to be on duty as well.
He did acknowledge, though, that it was "kinda nice to close a few Saturdays, … got to do some fishing."
One aspect of business in the 2020s decade that plagues Cowser Tire is common with most other small businesses: finding and keeping good employees.
"We struggle daily with that," he said. "We've got our core key people who've been here a number of years. They tend to stay, but we have fairly high turnover in other positions.
"There's lot of competition for jobs," he lamented. "People can earn the same or a bit less for less strenuous work. Working from home [during the pandemic] hampered us as well. People don't want to work out of home any more."
To compensate, Cowser has raised wages, instituted performance-based commissions and bonuses and offered a package of health-care benefits, a retirement program, life insurance policies, etc.
"Once you have them," he stressed, "do all you can to keep them."