John Quirk, a third generation tire dealer and chairman and CEO of VIP Inc. dba VIP Tires & Service, is Modern Tire Dealer’s 2018 Tire Dealer of the Year. For the past 33 years he’s steered the business his grandfather founded in 1926. When Quirk was about 15 his father, Edward Quirk Jr., announced that he wasn’t going to stay home all summer, so he went to work and learned how to change commercial truck tires and swing a sledge hammer. He thought the exercise would help him stay in shape for the upcoming high school hockey season.
Quirk Tires and Service Corp., based in Watertown, Mass., sold both passenger and commercial tires, but the business was heavily focused on the commercial segment, especially giant off-the-road tires.
He returned home to take over the family business in 1985 and in 2001 he made a big move and acquired VIP Discount Auto Center, a 48-store chain then based in Lewiston, Maine, that sold both tires and auto parts. The two Quirk Tires stores took on the bigger VIP name, and later all stores took on a new brand name: VIP Tires & Service.
Quirk has lead a series of transformations since then. He sold his family’s legacy commercial tire business to Pete’s Tire Barns Inc. in early 2012, and months later sold VIP’s auto parts business to O’Reilly Automotive Inc. Both moves gave Quirk and VIP Tires & Service a singular focus: their retail tire and automotive service customers.
O’Reilly now operates its own auto parts stores from inside VIP Tires & Service stores. O’Reilly is a tenant, and also the premier parts provider for VIP. They share a single entrance into each store.
Greg Smith, publisher of Modern Tire Dealer, says Quirk “has molded an absolutely unique business strategy for his 57 stores. Every move VIP makes is focused on the consumer, and the business continues to grow.”
An $11,000 donation from Modern Tire Dealer and VIP Tires and Service’s suppliers will be made in Quirk’s name. The donation will be split between two charities: Stomp Out Bullying Corp. and New England Cancer Specialists. The latter donation will be made in memory of Jen McGaughey, the late wife of VIP’s Tire Merchandising Director Blair McGaughey.
The participating suppliers are: Bartec USA LLC, Berkshire Hills Bancorp Inc. dba Berkshire Bank, Bridgestone Affiliated Retailer Network, Cooper Tire and Rubber Co., Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., Hennessy Industries Inc., Hunter Engineering Co., Max Finkelstein Inc., Michelin North America Inc., Mirick O’Connell, Mohawk Rubber Sales, Pirelli Tire North America Inc., Schrader International Inc., TBC Brands LLC, Unotifi, and Valvoline LLC.
This is the 26th year MTD has presented its Tire Dealer of the Year Award. Quirk joins a list of tire industry icons who have won the award, including the late Bruce Halle, chairman of the largest tire dealership in the U.S., Discount Tire and America’s Tire. Last year, for the first time, MTD presented the award to a pair of brothers, Mark Rhodes and Scott Rhodes, owners of Plaza Tire Service Inc.