This story is the latest in MTD’s exclusive series of articles about how the COVID-19 crisis is impacting independent tire dealers. Stay tuned to www.moderntiredealer.com for more!

The COVID-19 crisis has forced some tire dealers to suspend expansion projects. Steve Shannon Tire, however, is forging ahead with its growth plan.

The Bloomsburg, Pa.-based dealership recently added two stores to its footprint.

Steve Shannon Tire's new location in Mansfield, Pa., days before it opened on April 6.

Steve Shannon Tire's new location in Mansfield, Pa., days before it opened on April 6.

The first was an acquisition of another longstanding independent tire dealership, K&K Tire Barn, on March 17.

The second is a brand-new location that opened in Mansfield, Pa., on April 6.

The Mansfield location, which was built from the ground up, is Steve Shannon Tire’s 21st retail/commercial location and its fifth wholesale-distribution center, according to the dealership's Jesse Shannon.

K&K Tire, which is located in Tunkhannock, Pa., and opened 43 years ago, was owned by Ernie King.

While Steve Shannon Tire has suffered a dip in its retail tire sales due to customers’ apprehension around the COVID-19 crisis, the company’s commercial truck and farm tire business remains robust.

Most of the dealership’s locations are in small towns, says Jesse. Some are on the outskirts of these communities.

“Farmers are still going full speed ahead. They haven’t slowed down. And the same with trucks. It’s almost like they haven’t skipped a beat.”

Selling a wide array of tires “definitely helps in times like these,” he adds.

On the retail side, “customers are being cautious with everything they hear on the news. But there hasn’t been a day where any of our shops haven’t done a decent amount of business.”

Out of an abundance of caution, Steve Shannon Tire’s management team is watching employee hours closely and has cut store hours by 30 minutes each day.

“We definitely don’t want to shut down any locations,” says Jesse. “I don’t think that would be the right answer for anybody. People are still driving their cars.”

Adjustments, he notes, can always be made as the situation changes.

During economic downturns, “you definitely don’t always sell (top-end) tires, so you make sure that you have (less expensive) lines.”

He also believes that Steve Shannon Tire’s wholesale business – which is split equally between small service stations and smaller independent tire dealers - will rebound.

“We’re seeing some customers stock a little less.”

When the COVID-19 crisis hit, “some of (our) smaller garages said, ‘We’re taking two weeks off.’ “

Economic downturns are not bad times to look for acquisition opportunities, according to Jesse. “When times are good, people charge more for everything, including their properties. Someone who is doing well will want more for his business. But when times are down, you might be able to get a better price.

“Maybe you know an older guy who wanted to stick around for three more years but now wants to retire” due to a sudden downturn. “Something like that can change an owner’s mind,” he notes.

Steve Shannon Tire has no plans to change its long-term strategy.

Jesse believes the COVID-19 crisis will cause “a bump in the road during the second quarter. But I don’t think it will affect our whole year.”

Other stores in this series:

MTD Series Looks at Impact of COVID-19 on Tire Dealers

Dealer Rolls Out ‘Safer at Home’ Service in Response to COVID-19

Shifting Strategy: COVID-19 Forces Dealer to Make Dramatic Staffing, Store Changes

COVID-19 Hits Home: Conrad’s Tire Takes Swift Action After Employee Tests Positive

‘Look at Where Every Dollar Is Going,’ Mountain View Tire VP Advises During COVID-19

Schnipke Brothers Find Bright Spots During COVID-19

Tire Pros Dealer Wonders How Long He Can Wait for PPP Loan

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