Partners in Business and At Home
It's a Family Affair for Kevin Grose, Trisha Andrews and Their OK Tire Store
OK Tire has 325 branded, franchise stores from the west to east coasts of Canada. All of the stores are independently owned and operated. An OK Tire location in Prince George, British Columbia, happens to be owned and operated by business partners who are married.
Kevin Grose and Trisha Andrews have owned their OK Tire location since 2017 and have been married since 1991. The couple has successfully navigated this professional/ personal dynamic to build a successful business that continues to grow.
In it together
Kevin Grose started working at the store under his father, George Grose, when he was only 12 years old. His father opened the location in 1955. “He wanted an opportunity to have a business that services multiple people,” says Kevin.
The younger Grose thought taking over the business seemed like a “no-brainer” since he had worked there for so many years. Now, at age 49, he says he is “fully invested” in the store and has put in 37 total years there, with 33 of those being full-time.
Trisha, also 49, took a slightly different on-ramp into selling tires. In 2002, she was pregnant with the couple’s second daughter and wanted a job that would give her flexible hours so she could maintain a good work-life balance.
She began working part-time at Kevin’s father’s store and fell in love with her job. She decided to stay full-time.
Kevin acknowledges that being an independent, second-generation owner is a big accomplishment. But he says that owning the store with Trisha is the thing he is the most proud of.
Balancing work and life
Trisha says that doing business with a spouse provides some advantages that other arrangements may not offer. “You are able to bounce ideas off of each other’s strengths and not have that power or control dynamic that some partners may have, because they don’t live with each other and don’t know what it’s like when you can finish each other’s sentences.”
The relationship between Trisha and Kevin allows them to be more open as business partners. Both feel more free and comfortable to share thoughts and ideas because they know where the other person is coming from.
Even though there are unique upsides to being a business partner with a spouse, both acknowledge there are unique struggles, as well. “Sometimes it’d be nice to come together at the end of the day and be like, ‘Oh, guess what happened today?’” says Kevin. “But we don’t have that because we are both” at the store.
Not talking about work outside of business hours can be a challenge. The couple follows a set of rules and established boundaries to not talk about work when away from the store. They even make a point to take vacations individually, so they can “appreciate some time apart.”
Change is constant
Kevin and Trisha’s OK Tire location provides a wide range of tires and tire-related services for passenger cars and light trucks. It also offers a variety of mechanical services and does “pretty much anything but exhaust (work) and transmissions,” says Kevin.
The partners say they have seen a lot of changes during their time as the store’s owners. Utilizing tools like the internet and OK Tire’s website, customers have become more knowledgeable about what they want when they come into the shop, according to Trisha.
There also are a lot more product options than in the past. Kevin remembers that at the beginning of his career, there were fewer tire brands and sizes.
One constant for the couple’s OK Tire location has been its customer base. Kevin says that being a part of the same community for decades has benefitted the store. And he believes excellent service and personal relationships with clients have helped with customer retention.
Kevin and Trisha say future goals for their business include improving various systems and procedures to increase efficiency, while preparing the store to be handed over to the next generation of owners within seven to eight years.
The couple’s two daughters have other plans for their futures, so they are mentoring young employees who already have “experience and connection with the customers” and have been with the company for a long time.