Southern Indiana adds retread shop, commercial center: Weaver saw a need for up-close service in Missouri

Dec. 1, 2005

If anyone knows how to get a truck tire retread plant off the ground, it's Paul Weaver, president of Southern Indiana Tire Inc.

Weaver is in the process of establishing his newest retread shop, a 27,000-square-foot facility in Jackson, Mo. The three-month-old plant is cranking out more than 30 truck tire retreads a day. It's part of a larger commercial tire and vehicle service facility that sells new medium truck tires, performs alignments and brake jobs, and operates a couple of service trucks.

The operation is the result of more than two years' of work and research, says Weaver, who is part of the Best-One Tire & Service group.

Meeting needs

Southern Indiana had been selling truck tires to fleets in the Jackson area for several years. (Jackson is near Cape Girardeau, Mo.)

However, tires were being shipped there from Southern Indiana's facility in Marion, Ind., which is an hour-and-a-half away. Weaver determined that he and his staff were spending too much time moving tires from Marion to Jackson.

"We also were getting a lot of night service calls in the area that were difficult to (handle) because of the miles. But we were doing a lot of fleet business in the area. We felt we needed to be there."

So two years ago, Weaver started looking for land in the area upon which to build a new outlet. "We looked at some facilities that were already there," he says. "We talked to some other people who were interested in selling their businesses." Neither approach worked out.

"We decided if we were going to go in there, we were going (to do it) first class and build a new facility with state-of-the-art equipment." He bought five acres of land less than a mile from Interstate 57, a busy freeway that runs from north to south.

Weaver broke ground on the land more than a year ago. "We had a lot of delays (due to) the weather. It took us almost 11 months to build the outlet."

It cost $1.6 million to build "and we probably have that much in equipment in the facility." Bandag Inc., Weaver says his retread supplier, has given him a lot of support along the way, says Weaver.


Quality personnel

Weaver's first priority has been staffing the facility with experienced professionals. "We hired a plant manager who had retread plant experience.

"The manager of the (entire) facility is Scott Thomas. He was a manufacturer's rep who had called on us. He had more than 10 years experience in commercial tires, plus at one point had run a retail store.

"We try to hire people with experience. I think that's the most exciting part about it. A lot of people want to come on-board and grow with the operation."

While the new facility was being built, Thomas called on fleets in the Jackson area. "A lot of them said, 'Once you get in the building, you've got my business,'" says Weaver.

In anticipation of gaining more customers over time, he left enough land around the building for expansion. "We can put on another 27,000 square feet."

Weaver would like the new plant to produce 88 retreads a day within two years. "But right now we want quality first -- then let the team build 44 a day and do that for a while, then come up to 66 a day, and then 88 a day. If they need support, we have two retread shops," one in Princeton, Ind., and another in St. Louis, Mo. (Weaver also owns part of another retread shop.)

"We haven't advertised yet. All of it has been word-of-mouth. We've been really busy. Jackson is growing. Proctor & Gamble has a large plant right up the road." The corporation's trucks "have to drive by our location to get to the plant."

Weaver is confident that business will increase as more fleets and truckers become aware of his new outlet. "Our philosophy is to give service beyond (customers') expectations. We see great things coming."


What's in a name? Geography plays a role, says Weaver

When Paul Weaver opened Southern Indiana Tire Inc. in the early 1970s, he "never dreamed we'd have so many operations," he says.

The Princeton, Ind.-based company now has 23 locations in several states, making it the 57th largest independent tire store chain in North America, according to Modern Tire Dealer research.

Because of its presence in multiple states, Weaver is thinking about phasing out the Southern Indiana name. "We're still debating it. We have six Southern Indiana Tire stores; the rest have been changed to Best-One."

Southern Indiana is part of the Best-One Tire & Service group. Best-One has more than 250 members in total.