The elder Mr. Moll added locations in Moreno Valley and San Bernardino before his son joined the dealership in 2007.
Chris Moll, who previously worked at Certified Tire & Service Centers, ended up leaving his father's business after three years, but returned in 2015. At that point he said he worked out a deal to buy Integrity Tire eventually from his father. That deal closed this summer.
Mr. Moll's original goal of growing the business gained traction in 2018 when the company acquired a location in San Diego and two Tire Guys-branded stores, in Colton and Hesperia, Calif.
He admitted he had a slow start attaining his goal, "but I want to make sure I don't buy something just to buy something to hit a goal. I wanted to make sure it's the right opportunity and make sure it's a smart business."
He closed on another deal with Tire Guys in April 2019 to acquire its location in Yucaipa, Calif., but passed on the remaining Redlands location due to contract terms. The parties renegotiated earlier this year, and Mr. Moll bought the Redlands location this summer.
Those deals allowed Tire Guys owners Jim and Sue Ferguson to exit the business after 35-plus years.
Other acquisitions involved closed auto service shops that Mr. Moll came across or for which he was contacted by the sellers. He's added locations in Menifee, Aliso Viejo, Lake Elsinore, Rancho Cucamonga, Idyllwild and Ontario, Calif.
"Most of the growth has been someone calling us, saying 'Hey, I want out!'" Mr. Moll said.
Several of the closed shops were in distressed conditions and, although each building has a different design, Mr. Moll said he has renovated and rebadged the acquired buildings to feature a common color scheme and office equipment.
"We have a pretty good game plan when we go into a store," he said, noting the stores are often neglected, dirty and cluttered.
He said the first thing he does when he gets the keys to an acquired shop is to order a trash bin to discard everything, except usable service equipment.
"I want to start fresh. I want to start clean. If there's a stapler out front, I throw it away. My new staplers are coming in, I don't want this old stapler," he said.
"I want my guys to be able to come in and operate and go. I gut everything, I throw everything away. Office furniture, anything. I just toss it."
He said he orders the same office equipment and furniture for every store — and each subsequent renovation gets easier.
"So that's what we do when we come in: basically gut everything, clean everything, paint everything, install everything that we use. ... And we open within three days."
To announce a new store opening, Integrity Tire does only digital advertising, including offering discounts through Groupon.com.
"A lot of people don't like Groupon, but I love Groupon because it brings a ton of cars into my store," Mr. Moll said.
"I train my people to understand that it doesn't matter what kind of customer comes in the door. It's an opportunity. We'll get Groupons in the stores quite a bit."
He also offers oil-change coupons that are distributed to local businesses and customer-financing options through Goodyear and Synchrony credit card programs.
About 70% of the dealership's sales come from automotive service and 30% from tires. The dealership mainly sells Goodyear, Kelly and LeMans brands.
Mr. Moll said his business philosophy focuses on customer service.
"We're all about customer service. I'd rather tell you everything I see wrong with your car and let you make an educated decision on whether you want to repair it or not. No pressure, no obligation to do it.
"Rather than some of these other companies you see out there where they may see $2,000 to $3,000 worth of (needed repairs) on a customer's car but only tell them about $1,000 worth because they don't want to tell them it needs $2,000-$3,000," he said.
"I don't think that's a service for the customer. I'd rather tell you if there's something wrong with your car, even if it's more money than what you think the car is worth.
"That's fine. I'd rather you make an educated decision on if you want to repair it rather than you spend a thousand dollars ... and then six months later you come back with something that was a problem then, but it's worse now and we didn't tell you about it."
He said his philosophy is: "Fix the vehicle right the first time. Take care of the customer. Treat customers fairly and give them a fair price on repairs."
For example, he said, if a customer comes in with a flat tire, he tries not to make him or her wait for the repair, even if the shop is busy.
"We're busy, we see a lot of cars, but what we will do is we will take care of the customer because our philosophy is take care of customers, make customers happy. We want people to know that we are a family-owned business, … treat them like they're family."
Mr. Moll said his dealership is competitive on tire and service pricing.
"If someone else is going to do it cheaper than you, why would you not do it? Yeah, we're in business to make a profit, but you also have to be in business to earn a return customer to stay in business. I mean, we're not here to make millions of dollars right away, and then not be in business five years down the road. We're here to service the customer, take care of them, keep them happy. So we have return business so we can stay in business."
Since the pandemic outbreak, Integrity Tire has added contact-less services, such as drop off/pick up service and text-to-pay.
The dealership suffered a drop in business for three weeks after the state issued a shutdown of non-essential businesses in mid-March.
A couple of days into the shutdown, although the dealership was open as an essential business, customer traffic dropped by half, he said.
"That following Monday, I adjusted my hours. I closed on Sundays. ... It reduced our expenses without reducing employees as much. We dropped it down to where no overtime was given. We reduced our business hours to Monday-Saturday and were open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.," he said.
He said his top concern was avoiding furloughing any of his 140 employees. He temporarily reduced employees to part-time status so they could collect the difference in pay through state funding. Human resources assisted the employees in filling out the required government forms.
After three weeks, he said, he started seeing business pick up, so he advertised a discount on oil changes for first responders and began bringing his employees back to full-time schedules.
Mr. Moll said he needed to bring everyone back to handle the subsequent increase in business.
"I think looking back it was the best thing I could have done. I don't think we could have done anything differently. … We dropped down in business quite a bit, but we also reduced our expenses quite a bit. And our employees were still taken care of. I didn't want to lay anyone off. I didn't want to furlough anybody. I didn't want to do any of that."
Since the spring, business has been doing well, he said, and sales are actually higher at some of the stores he operated last year.
"When those stimulus checks went out, we saw a huge increase (in business). So that shows you right there, people got money and wanted to spend money. I think it was good because maybe people weren't going to have money and they weren't fixing their cars.
"But once they got that stimulus check, I know a lot of people put money into their cars, which I thought was good for us. They were finally able to do some repairs on their cars because they had some money.
"Each time those rounds of stimulus went out, we instantly saw an increase in traffic coming in," Mr. Moll said.
His biggest challenge now is getting enough tires from his suppliers after tire companies curtailed production during the spring.
However, Mr. Moll said he is optimistic going forward.
"I don't think our business will slow down. A huge pandemic like COVID hurt us for about three weeks. So I don't know what else can happen that could hurt us worse than what COVID did," he said.