Every time that phone rings, that’s our family. Every time a customer is sitting in our waiting area, that’s our family. Who doesn’t love their family?”
With that question, Ricky Benton kicked off Black’s Tire Service Inc.’s annual meeting, which took place last month in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Black’s Tire employees – whom Benton also counts as members of his extended family — cycled through info sessions covering sales techniques, store management and a variety of other topics during the three-day event.
“Nobody in the tire and automotive business within our footprint, the Carolinas, has what we have,” Ryan Benton, who runs the dealership’s retail business, told attendees.
The company operates 45 locations, making it the 25th largest independent tire dealership in the U.S., according to the 2019 MTD 100.During 2019, Black’s Tire added two retail stores, one in Myrtle Beach and another in Monroe, N.C. The company also put the finishing touches on a new distribution center that opened last month in Columbia, S.C.
And it announced a 65,000-square-foot addition to its 265,000-square-foot distribution center in Whiteville, N.C. Construction is currently underway.
New business and investment
Black’s Tire had an outstanding 2019, Ryan told during the meeting, which was titled “Vision 2020: Black’s to the Future.”
“Our business was up all-around: retail, commercial and wholesale,” he said. “Our people were focused, driven and they worked hard to win new customers.”In particular, the dealership’s commercial tire division benefitted from an influx of new business, according to Jeremy Benton, who is in charge of the unit. “We went after a lot of newer segments for us,” including regional and last-mile delivery fleets.
To help manage the additional customers, Black’s Tire expanded its commercial sales force, said Jeremy, who added that the company’s retread sales increased by 11% versus prior-year levels. “With all the tariffs, there was a lot of empty space that we filled.”
Reinvestment will be a top Black’s Tire priority in 2020, according to Ryan. “We feel that’s necessary. We’re investing in employee training. We’re continuing to reinvest in store equipment and our trucks. We have plans to remodel some older stores.”
Recent overhauls of the company’s point-of-sale and accounting systems should bear fruit in 2020, as well. “We’re counting on those things to make us more productive,” he said. A steady presence
The new year will not be without challenges, Ryan cautioned. Most of Black’s Tire’s locations are located in small towns and rural areas. “Some of those towns are growing and some are shrinking.”
The company has no plans to close stores in struggling communities. “We still feel that we provide a service that’s needed in these towns,” he said.
“We want to continue to develop our people,” he told attendees. “Instead of looking at what we need to get through today, we need to look at what we want to get out of today. We think a lot about our daily ‘to-do’ list, but I want us to think about our ‘to-be’ list.” ■