AKRON — When tire shop owner Josh Baughman hung up the phone, it immediately rang again.
On this October day, he was helping run the front desk at Van's Auto Service Tire Pros in Akron, one of eight stores he owns in Northeast Ohio.
Pandemic or not, when Mr. Baughman saw an opportunity to expand, he went for it — opening his seventh and eighth stores in the last six months. His business has grown thanks to a bold approach, aggressive online presence and responsive customer service.
- This article appears in the Oct. 26 print edition of Tire Business.
The parking lot and bays at the large store were packed. Next to Mr. Baughman at the front desk, his store manager, Mike Spitale, thanked a departing customer and welcomed another.
A shop vendor popped in for a quick meeting. "Just need a few good minutes," the vendor said.
As Mr. Baughman took him to the office to talk, Cooper, his large Labrador Retriever puppy, calmly roamed the showroom floor until a customer reached down and greeted him in baby talk.
"I fill in where we are shorthanded, but typically I'm kind of more behind the scenes," Mr. Baughman said. "With as much tire business as we do, my focus is having the tire inventory that nobody else has. … We feel having the product on hand, on the shelf at our store location is worth the investment."
He said filling in occasionally helps him "stay in touch with how we do business, any flaws in our system, and I like it," he said.