When Jack Targaczewski was a kid, his dad would drag him into the garage to watch and learn as he worked on cars.
Jack had no interest. “I wanted to play video games.”
It was an unlikely start for a 38-year-old who has spent 20 years in the tire industry, including the last 10 as the owner of his own business, LEBP Enterprises LLC dba Ice Performance Tires & Wheels in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Targaczewski began with a part-time job learning how to install tires at a Discount Tire store. He hated it at first, but eventually “things just started to click.” He went on to work for a Cadillac dealership, and the new car dealer saw big profit potential in selling aftermarket wheel and tire packages. “At that point, the aftermarket was going bananas,” he says.
He honed his tire balancing skills and gathered more experience as he worked at other places. Along the way, he admits he had problems with managers. Some wanted him to work faster, but he interpreted that as wanting him to cut corners. Targaczewski knew what would happen — there would be more comebacks due to vibration complaints.
He’s admittedly stubborn and wanted to do things the right way. “I had to take the leap.” He opened Ice Performance Tires & Wheels in January 2009. He started small. He put his first month’s rent on a credit card and shared spaces with other businesses for the first six years. In May 2015, he moved into his own 2,500-square-foot space near the Scottsdale Airport.
It’s a narrow hallway suite long enough to fit two cars, but it only has one bay door. “I want to focus on one car, make sure it’s done the right way and we take the time we need,” Targaczewski says. “I don’t want to do 20 cars a day.”
On a typical day, there are three to five vehicles on the schedule awaiting tire or tire-and-wheel installs, brake upgrades, plus truck leveling kits, lift kits or suspension lowering kits installation. (Much of the dealership’s suspension work is done by Targaczewski’s employee, Dave Straub.) Ice Performance Tires & Wheels also does some installation work for other retailers.
The business’ focus is on tires and aftermarket wheels for performance-minded customers, and Targaczewski says his specialty is in vibration problem solving and balancing. He’s even coined an acronym: EV@FMB, which stands for “Eliminate Vibration at the First Mount Balance.”
“I guarantee we do more match mounting than any other shop,” he says, noting that a four-tire installation appointment on the schedule “is a two-hour process.”“The tire off the shelf that you’re mounting is not the same tire when you’re driving on it. If you put a fresh tire and wheel on the balancer and then you go and put 100 miles on it and put it back on the balancer, 80% of the time you’re going to get a much different result,” he says. “I thought as technology got better, we’d have fewer tires out of round and fewer runout issues.”
The issue is complicated further by the vehicles themselves. “Everything is dialed in, so there’s no room for error. You have a 235/30R20 on a Ferrari and if it’s 10 grams out of balance the customer says, ‘I’ve got a vibration.’”
He’s frustrated that wheel and tire manufacturers don’t reimburse installers for the second mount and balance that’s required when an out-of-round tire is returned and must be replaced.
Targaczewski isn’t afraid to speak his piece. He uses his shop’s Instagram feed to talk bluntly about issues affecting his business.
An online opportunity
Targaczewski carries five tire brands, and “Michelin is definitely (our) number one,” he says. Pirelli, Continental, Toyo and Vredestein are his other go-to offerings.
There is another opportunity for Ice Performance Tires & Wheels, and it goes back to the shop’s presence on social media.
Targaczewski has talked so much about EV@FMB online, he thinks there’s a window to help performance tire and wheel customers outside of Scottsdale. He shares photos of tires and wheels on Facebook and Instagram and tells customers they don’t have to live in Arizona to experience EV@FMB expertise. He uses Federal Express to ship bolt-on, tire-and-wheel packages, complete with tire pressure monitoring sensors and the fasteners, hub rings and spacers needed for installation.
“It’s not a huge part of our business right now. A lot of other companies ship tire-and-wheel packages ready to go, and I’ve had people drop ship their purchases here.” ■