SHOW LOW, Ariz. — What some would consider rotten luck — buying your first business right before the pandemic hit — turned into a good-will marketing opportunity for the new owner of Future Tire and Automotive.
Dave Schonaerts, 47, purchased Young's Future Tire and its four locations in Arizona's White Mountains region in December 2019, a few months before many businesses across the country shut down temporarily to counter the spread of COVID-19.
"Luckily, I didn't know what I didn't know," he told Tire Business. "Having been just brand new to ownership, everything was new. So I think I was lucky to go into that pandemic stupid as I was. So I benefited from really not having a lot to base my expectations on."
Amid the ensuing financial uncertainty many families faced and the desire to introduce the new ownership to local customers, the rebranded Future Tire and Automotive retail/commercial tire dealership started extending credit to its customers — with essentially only a handshake.
"It was me trying to introduce myself to the community because I'm the new guy on the mountain," Schonaerts said. "I just wanted the community to know that if they are in a tight spot, we are in a position to help. And we didn't get burned. Anyone we extended credit to has been able to settle up.
"I think it took a lot of that fear out. We didn't want anybody stranded, putting things off on what they needed to keep their vehicles up and going, especially when everything was as unknown as it was.
"So I think that was a really nice introduction of the new ownership to the community. It helped with the pandemic in the initial scare. But I think the long-term effects of treating the community that way has really served us well."