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Tuner vs. traditional: They are not the same customers. Jack Williams Tire knows that. The result is a high performance shop that caters to a new breed

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Tuner vs. traditional: They are not the same customers. Jack Williams Tire knows that. The result is a high performance shop that caters to a new breed

By Bob Ulrich

Custom wheel displays are visible in the tire dealership from the street. A closer look through the front window also reveals plenty of low-profile tires on the black and white checkerboard floor and high-profile tuner accessories on the walls.

If it's before 8 p.m., you can still go in and browse.

The new high performance shop at Jack Williams Tire Co. Inc. caters to high performance and tuner customers. It is part of the company's new 19,000-square-foot, 18-bay outlet in Kingston, Pa., which also features a conservative showroom for more traditional customers (see "Schizophrenic by design" in MTD's October issue).

But when the traditional half shuts down for the day, the performance end is just getting started.

"That business starts later," says President Bill Williams. "It picks up about mid-afternoon and goes into the evening. The other night I stopped here at a quarter to 8 and they were (putting on) four tire and wheel packages."

Williams says it usually takes the high performance shoppers three trips to pin down exactly what they want. Deciding on which tires and wheels to buy is not as time consuming as choosing accessories like tail lights, suspension parts, ground effects packages "and all the other goodies we have, all the 'jewels' for their cars."

That's why the high performance shop is separated from the traditional shop, with a dedicated sales force at the ready with laptops and special custom wheel software.

"You spend four or five minutes with the traditional tire customers," says Williams. "With high performance customers, it's at least a half an hour -- at the first sitting. It's a different pace altogether and you just can't mix the two together."

Patience is a virtue

"Your average wheel sale, just before the handshake, is two or three hours at best," says Rich Williams (no relation), custom wheel/high performance program manager. "To make a decision, it generally will take customers more than one visit. They'll bring other friends in, they'll bring their girlfriends in -- they want as much public opinion as possible to help them make their decision. It's all about show."

Jack Williams Tire sells Goodyear and Kelly high performance tires. "But Falken and Toyo are new additions since we built the high performance store," says Williams. "There's a big demand for those tires in the high performance (segment), especially in the tuner market."

Jack Williams Tire has 22 stores in eastern and central Pennsylvania. The typical store averages 7,000 square feet and eight bays.

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