Mac's Tire Service Offers Convenience, 'Comfort'
24/7 Service, Female Employees Set Washington D.C. Dealership Apart
Pam Konde remembers a time before she was the owner of Mac’s Tire Service in Washington, D.C. She recalls working for her father, Percy Pettaway, at the single-location dealership during her summer breaks from high school and making $3 an hour operating the cash register.
Konde got her first taste of what running a tire dealership is all about — years before she took over the family business after her father passed away in 2007.
Percy opened Mac’s Tire in the early 1980s. Konde says he had always owned some automotive-related business, so she and her siblings were introduced to the aftermarket early.
When he passed, Konde had to make a decision about the dealership’s future. Her older brother was not interested in taking over and her younger brother was still in college, working on his degree.
“Just knowing the sacrifices that my parents had made for so many years, I just felt like I owed it to them to at least give (ownership) a shot,” she says.
For the first year-and-a-half after taking over, Konde sat back and observed how the business was run and learned from her employees.
“I didn’t know anything about running a business. Working in the summer or on a weekend is completely different than actually running a business.”
Her employees helped her learn the ropes until she felt confident to step into the dealership’s top role.
During her time observing the dealership and seeing how it was run, Konde knew there were elements of Mac’s Tire she wished to keep and expand on. That included keeping the hours of the shop the same.
Open 24/7, Mac’s Tire is always available to help customers, including holidays. (The dealership sells passenger, light truck, commercial and industrial tires. It also offers new and used tires and tire-related services, including wheel alignments, tire pressure monitoring system service and more.)
Konde says her father decided to operate around-the-clock, knowing that being in a big city there will always be traffic and that cabs, delivery trucks and other vehicles can break down at odd hours of the night.
While learning the business, Konde noticed that Mac’s Tire had no tire brand preference. The dealership was content selling all brands, but she noticed that customers were asking for certain products and wanted to build on that momentum. “I was able to sign up to become a certified dealer with a lot of different tire manufacturers.”
Mac’s Tire carries Hercules, Goodyear, Dunlop, Firestone and other brands.
Hercules has become the dealership’s “house brand,” says Konde.
"It's been a dynamite brand for us to have because of the exclusivity of it. It’s not a brand that any customer can just go anywhere and pick.
“They offer complementary road hazard protection, which is really huge in the city because things happen. They stand by their warranty on their products. It's been a really high-quality product for us to sell."
Konde recognizes that many tire dealerships are owned and operated by men. However, she says that being a woman has not hindered business.
“After the surprise or initial shock” on the part of some customers after learning that the company is female-owned, “there is some level of respect that comes in.”
Mac’s Tire’s customers want the best service possible for their cars and quickly learn that Konde and her team can provide this.
Eight of the dealership’s 20 employees are female, including a tire technician, which is rare to find, says Konde.
She did not seek out female employees originally. “We’re looking for dependability and dedication to the company. The technical details can be taught.”
Although she says it does not make a difference to male customers, Konde believes employing so many females makes a difference for female customers.
Women are more inclined to help female-owned businesses, she says. And she believes that female employees can quickly establish a comfort level with customers of the same gender.
“There is a notion that the automotive industry has a reputation for taking advantage of women. Women can come in here and know they won’t be cheated. It brings a certain level of calmness and comfort.”
'An extension of Capitol Hill'
Konde notes that Mac’s Tire does not have a lot of competitors in its area, other than some big box stores. She says that being an independent tire dealer provides her business with an advantage over these larger operations, as Mac’s Tire is able to provide more personalized service and can address customers’ specific needs.
The location of the dealership also will contribute to its future success, Konde believes. The company is very convenient for customers to get to and is now considered “an extension of Capitol Hill,” she says with a laugh.