Lamb’s Tire and Automotive Grows With the Market
Since the start of 2015, Jim Ramsey has added a store, a technical training program and a commercial service offering to the network of Lamb’s Tire and Automotive outlets in Central Texas.
Business has been better than expected at the new store on the south side of Austin, Texas. The outlet on South Lamar Street opened in June and is the third Lamb’s location in south Austin. “That area of town is a bit under-served,” says Ramsey, who is CEO and president of Lamb Ventures LP, which does business as Lamb’s Tire & Automotive.
Before the store opened, five auto repair shops had been removed from the neighborhood to make way for new apartment and condominium complexes. “I think there’s a big need there for our services, and that’s why it’s taken off so well,” says Ramsey.
He reports he is leasing the location of the new Lamb’s Tire store and it measures about 7,000 square feet. It has eight employees and 10 bays. Renovation and equipment represent about a half million dollar investment.
There are now 15 Lamb’s Tire and Automotive stores serving the growing Central Texas market. The company’s major brands are Goodyear, Michelin, Continental and General. “Austin is a really tough tire market. There’s a lot of competition,” says Ramsey. “While we want to sell as many tires as we can, most of our work, about 75%, turns out to be service work.”
Ramsey says the company is looking at other locations for expansion. “We don’t want to grow too fast. The main concern we have is getting the right people in our stores. That’s what keeps us from going out and doing a whole lot more.”
In-house training added
In January, the company added an in-house technician training program. John Valenzuela, a Lamb’s employee and ASE master certified technician, was named full-time corporate trainer. Carolyn Barnard, the company’s human resources director, is managing the program, which uses the Goodyear Learning Center curriculum. Classes are held at the Lamb’s store on McNeil Road in Austin. The company kicked off the program by retraining all of its general service technicians on oil change, tire installation and tire repair processes.
The training helped the technicians sharpen their skills and helped Valenzuela refine his presentations, according to Ramsey. All new hires are required to complete a training program before working at a store. In addition, training is offered to technicians who want to expand their skill sets and prepare for new opportunities.
“It’s our goal to not hire someone who’s looking for a job. Our goal is to bring people in who want to learn how to eventually be automotive technicians or even advance into sales or store management if that’s their goal,” says Ramsey.
First-ever commercial offering
On Aug. 1, Lamb’s Tire and Automotive expanded into commercial service. The company added a service truck and provides commercial truck tire sale sales and service.
The commercial service was added at the request of customers. In January 2015, Lamb’s hired a salesperson to bring in car and light truck fleet business. During sales calls, customers asked him if Lamb’s could service truck tires. “We ran the numbers and figured we could make a go of it,” says Ramsey.
Six Lamb’s Tire and Automotive stores are in Williamson County and nine stores are in Travis County, an area at the center of population and business growth in Central Texas. Ramsey says the company, which was founded in 1987, is prepared to serve the market through additional stores.
“I feel like we could probably grow another eight stores. I feel the market could bear that easily. The growth here is just tremendous. Austin is on I-35; we’re talking maybe moving down I-35 toward the San Antonio area and maybe up I-35 toward the Waco area as well.” ■