On any business day, two to four bays are generating up to 40% of business at the North Gateway Tire Co. Inc. store in Medina, Ohio. The northwest corner of the 28-bay shop is dedicated to servicing medium truck, agricultural, lawn and garden, all-terrain vehicle, trailer, motor home, back hoe and skid steer tires.
Commercial customers know the tires they need are likely in the 80,000-square-foot warehouse connected to the shop. For owners of skid steer machines, there are nearly 100 skid steer tires in stock “with room for more,” says Steve Starosta, retail and commercial sales manager.
North Gateway Tire’s main skid steer lines are BKT, Titan, Galaxy and Deestone. Half a dozen options in the most common skid steer sizes, 10 16.5 and 12 16.5, are in the warehouse. “We’re fortunate that we have different tires of this product on our shelves. We’re able to supply customers’ needs right then and there,” says Starosta.
Step through the skid steer tire options
When a customer calls looking for a skid steer tire, Starosta and his staff respond with questions.
“Right off the bat you have to figure out the application. The first question I ask is what the skid steer is used on. Is it more in dirt, on pavement, or is it used in a mixture of both? You want to find out the application because there are different models and tread designs that are better for one or the other.”
Skid steer machines used in rougher conditions like steel or heavy debris prompt more questions. “You want to ask if they have issues with punctures. If they have issues with punctures you want to look at a foam-fill or even a solid tire,” says Starosta.He suggests tire options and then prepares for questions from the customer. “Once you give them options, whether it’s a dirt tire or something more for pavement-type use, the question you are going to be asked is what kind of price are we looking at.”
North Gateway Tire stocks multiple options at various price levels for all types of skid steer applications.
“You want to explain to customers that they can spend a few dollars less but they have to remember that they are getting a lesser tire and lesser tread depth,” says Starosta.
Sometimes the higher initial cost of a solid or foam-fill tire may cause a skid steer machine owner to lean toward a pneumatic tire for machines operating in a harsher job site environment. If that happens, Starosta discusses the costs of downtime with the customer.
“Once you feel these folks out as to what the machine is going to be used on, then they understand they’re getting a deeper tread, a denser rubber compound and a longer-lasting tire.”
Foam-filled tires are preferred
Although North Gateway Tire sells solid tire assemblies, many skid steer machine owners opt for the company’s foam-fill flat-proofing service for their pneumatic tires. Starosta says North Gateway Tire customers who use their skid steers on concrete generally prefer foam-filled tires.
“From the feedback I get, a lot of those guys say they’ve run solids in the past but they get more time out of the foam filled. It costs a little bit more but they are getting more longevity out of the tire. So it goes back to downtime is money.”
Another point to bring up is how solid or foam-fill tires affect driver comfort.
“We make the customer aware that if they go to a solid or foam-fill the downfall is it’s going to be a little bit of a rougher or harsher ride. But the better end of it is their downtime is limited or almost nonexistent until they need to replace that tire. Once again, avoiding downtime means a lot.”
Skid steers are just one part of North Gateway Tire’s commercial business. The company services tires for everything from lawn and garden equipment to log skidders and forestry tractors. Roadside and field repair services are offered. Along with full lines of medium truck, lawn and garden, agricultural and off-the-road tires, the company carries passenger and light truck tires. Its main passenger brands are Yokohama, Kenda, Bridgestone, Firestone, Toyo, Hankook and Nexen.
More than 3,500 tires are on site
More than 3,500 passenger, light truck and commercial tires are housed in the warehouse alongside the shop, according to Patrick Hill, vice president-service. He is the son of the dealership’s founder, Darrell Hill, who owns the company in partnership with Bob Dunlap of Dunlap & Kyle Co. Inc. in Batesville, Miss.
The shop measures about 60,000 square feet and has 28 bays. Fourteen bays are dedicated to tire service and 10 bays handle automotive repair. The shop also has two alignment racks for servicing vehicles from passenger cars up to one-ton trucks and motor homes.
The company buys all tires direct from manufacturers. North Gateway Tire operates a 250,000-square-foot facility about 10 miles away in Seville, which houses products from four-inch cart tires to 29.5 R25 off-the-road tires, along with tubes and wheels. In addition to supplying the Medina store, the Seville warehouse makes daily deliveries to wholesale customers in Ohio, western Pennsylvania, northwest West Virginia, and half of Michigan.
“The Seville warehouse brings industrial tires to us; we don’t buy from another vendor. We have plenty of inventory and plenty of options. The tires are here and ready to go on the customers’ machines,” says Starosta. ■