COLUMBUS, Ohio — The tire industry has changed a lot in the 50 years since CEO Ken Langhals founded K&M Tire Inc. The thing that never changes, though, is the firm's commitment to putting customers first.
Mr. Langhals, the wholesale tire company's CEO, and Cheryl Gossard, K&M Tire president and his daughter, noted this point several times during the 2020 K&M Tire Dealer Conference and Trade Show, held Jan. 23-24 in Columbus.
"My father started K&M in 1970 at a small two-bay gas station," Ms. Gossard told Tire Business. "Whenever someone would pull up and wanted gas, he would immediately stop what he was doing and run out to pump their gas and clean their windshield. He knew he had to make the customer the most important person in his business, because without them there would be no K&M.
"I'm very proud to say that today the importance of providing good customer service is incorporated into our company's vision, mission and core values. It's something we talk about daily to our teams, as well as acknowledge, reward and celebrate when we see and hear examples of our team living it out."
The annual conference hosted hundreds of K&M Tire customers and included a trade show, entertainment, prizes and a number of informational seminars that touched on topics such as retaining talent, new dealer programs and ideas for creating a better customer experience.
This article appears in the Feb. 3 print edition of Tire Business
"It's really important to me that the seminars are high quality and our information and the things (customers) take back to their dealerships helps them improve," Ms. Gossard said.
"Also, we want them to take away the feeling that we are family just like they are, and we care about them and want to be partners with them and want them to be successful."
Mr. Langhals started the company with a handshake deal and $100 in the cash register. His first goal, he said during the event, was to earn enough money to buy a service truck. It took some time, he noted, but eventually he was able to afford a used truck.
Fifty years later, the Delphos, Ohio-based company employs more than 750 at 31 locations, servicing customers in 27 states.