'We Put No Limits on Our Growth,' Says Tire Discounters' Ward
Tire Discounters Inc. continues to expand its footprint. Earlier this year, the Cincinnati, Ohio-based company opened its 15th Columbus, Ohio-market store. Georgia has been another recent growth area for the dealership.
Tire Discounters - which was founded in 1976 by Chip Wood, MTD's 2020 Tire Dealer of the Year Award recipient - also operates in Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee and Alabama.
In this interview, Jamie Ward, the dealership's president and CEO, discusses what's next for the family-owned company, including its recently launched Protect Your Legacy program.
"We have a great brand and want to scale it," says Ward. "But we're going to be very strategic and conservative."
Tire Discounters is eighth largest independent tire store chain in the U.S., according to the 2021 MTD 100.
MTD: Tire Discounters has consistently pushed into new markets and has grown its footprint to more than 140 locations across six states. Does the company have a store count goal in mind within its existing footprint?
Ward: We put no limits on our growth. We are continually adding new stores within our footprint. Most recent examples include Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis, Ind.; and Atlanta, Ga. We have no plans on slowing down.
MTD: In the September 2020 issue of MTD, Chip Wood said, ‘It would be pretty cool to become a national brand versus a regional retailer.’ Do you have plans to take the Tire Discounters chain national?
Ward: Although our current organic growth is heavily concentrated in Georgia and surrounding states, we are speaking to many family-owned, independent dealers who are exploring options to strategically partner with us in various states around the country.
MTD: On that note, can you bring us up to speed on Tire Discounters’ new franchise program and its development?
Ward: The Tire Discounters franchise program is just now launching and there has been a lot of interest. The program extends our best-in-class practices, expertise and support to the independent tire dealer. We are currently talking to several owner-operators who could use our help to better compete with the larger corporations and expect to approve some dealerships that will be going through our careful selection process. (Editor's note: Click here to read more about the program, called Protect Your Legacy.)
MTD: What’s your take on the current state of the retail tire market?
Ward: We feel there is a lot of pent-up demand for both tires and service repairs, so we look forward to aggressively competing for those customers. Although the outlook looks promising for many independent tire dealers, there are real threats of inflation that will be impacting acquisition prices of goods and services.
Although the best dealers will resist the temptation to discount tire prices when customer shopping naturally intensifies, we will unfortunately see some bigger corporate chains reduce prices to combat the competitive pressure. This margin compression could have a grave impact on all businesses on the heels of a tumultuous year and not every business can compete as effectively as we can.
We look forward to strategically navigating demand and continuing to serve our customers with excellence.