Why the new headquarters faces south (and other architectural curiosities)

Sept. 1, 1998

More than the architect’s ideas went into the construction of the new Tires Plus headquarters in Burnsville, Min.

Head Coach Tom Gegax, a student of Eastern philosophies, relied heavily on the Chinese concept of Feng Shui in designing the facility.

Location and building orientation mean everything in Feng Shui, which literally means “wind” and “water” Taking into account the forces of nature helps link a building and its owners with the universe, resulting in good fortune and health.

A Feng Shui specialist was brought in to oversee the project according to Don Gullett, head coach of new store development.

“He was involved from the land purchase to the finished building.

“He blessed the land, and suggested the best possible flow of energy through the building.”

For example furniture was arranged so that no one has their back to a door.

“When colors are a big part of it, too, says Gullett. “A lot of it is really common sense.”

Feng Shui dictates the front of the building faces south. In China, tombs on ancestral burial grounds were supposed to face south so the dead could receive the summer sun.

The land is also sloped, another requirement.

Behind the 33,000-square-foot building is a small lake—a harmonious tie to nature.

Gullett says everybody had a say in the design of the new headquarters.

“People wanted windows. We operated out of a warehouse with no windows. So there are lots of windows.

“We interviewed every teammate to determine interrelationships they had with everyone else they dealt with in the company.”

Gullett says people also wanted private offices. “But we found that private offices hindered their ability to operate effectively. To make up for that, we allowed a lot of open conference rooms in the building.”

The general layout of the building is as follows:

Upper level: operations (accounting information services, development).

Floor level: marketing, purchasing, human resources and wholesale

Lower level: fitness center (including weight room and shiatsu massage room area), break area, computer room, auditorium, Tires Plus University (TPU)

Prior to April 1997, Tires Plus worked out of three separate facilities: a warehouse that housed the main officers; TPU, the company’s automotive training center; and a satellite office building. Only the warehouse remains.

As a nod to “Western philosophies of productivity,” the building is pre-wired for fiber optics. A $3 million investment in updating the computer system also will take the company into the next century.

The Feng Shui consultant made sure the ties between the co-founders will remain strong.

A red string above the ceiling connects the third-floor offices of Gullett and Gegax.

About the Author

Bob Ulrich

Bob Ulrich was named Modern Tire Dealer editor in August 2000 and retired in January 2020. He joined the magazine in 1985 as assistant editor, and had been responsible for gathering statistical information for MTD's "Facts Issue" since 1993. He won numerous awards for editorial and feature writing, including five gold medals from the International Automotive Media Association. Bob earned a B.A. in English literature from Ohio Northern University and has a law degree from the University of Akron.