“Family” was the operative word at Best-One Tire Group’s 75th anniversary celebration/dealer meeting, which took place recently.
“Our number-one strategic initiative can be summed up in one word: family,” Lindsey Beer, Best-One's chief strategy officer, told Best-One dealers, associates and their families, who traveled from all over the United States to attend the event, which was held in French Lick, Ind.
“There’s nothing better than getting to work with the people who are here today,” said her cousin, Tina Zurcher, Best-One's general counsel. “Our commitment to you is helping you reach your goals.”
The newest members of the Best-One network are two dealerships that also have long, storied histories.
Founded in 1978 by Dan and Elizabeth Callaghan, Callaghan Tire, which is based in Bradenton, Fla., joined Best-One this past May. The dealership, which is now known as Callaghan’s Best-One, operates 10 commercial truck tire centers, two Bandag retread plants, a full-service retail tire store and a five-location industrial tire division.
Cullman, Ala.-based McGriff Tire – which, like Best-One, is celebrating its 75th year in business – joined the Monroe, Ind.-based Best-One network last month. Now operating under the McGriff Best-One Tire & Service banner, the dealership operates 18 locations throughout Alabama and Tennessee, as well as an intermodal division and two retread plants.
“Callaghan was already a strong, healthy, well-respected business,” said Jon Zurcher, Best-One's chief operating officer. “It’s a family business that has multiple generations in the business. It has a strong leadership team in place. For us, it was a perfect fit. And with McGriff, it was the same situation. We had known and respected the McGriff family for many, many years. There are incredible similarities between McGriff and Best-One.”
The newly formed partnerships with Callaghan and McGriff bring an additional four retread plants to Best-One's network of 20 retread facilities and will enable Best-One to produce, in total, around 725,000 medium truck retreads this year – 60,000 more units that the group manufactured in 2022.
Several Best-One retread plants achieved record production levels last year. (Best-One predicts its total retread output will top one million units in 2024.)
Altogether, there are 321 locations within Best-One's network. (Approximately 165 of those stores focus on commercial tires.) Best-One has a presence in 28 states.
The Callaghan and McGriff deals beef up Best-One's presence in the southeastern U.S., according to Jon, who added that “we’re going to keep growing in markets where it makes sense. We try to fly under the radar in a lot of ways.”
On the retail side, Best-One members are outpacing the market, said Jon. (Best-One estimates that its consumer tire dealers, in total, sell around 1.5 million units a year.)
“I’m in the Indianapolis market,” said Scott Monteith, vice president of Best-One of Indy, which has 15 locations and is one of the fastest-growing dealerships in the Best-One network. “We have so much competition, it makes your head spin. Best-One has developed a foundation for us to build on. If we keep doing the things we’re doing, the future is bright.”
Demand for passenger and light truck tires “is starting to pick back up,” according to Beer. “Things plateaued this summer and weren’t great for a while, but it seems that in August things started to pick up again. We’re doing a number of different incentives – rebates and different things – to keep it moving.”
Best-One officials said its distribution arm “is the largest and fastest-growing part of Best-One's business,” encompassing 62 locations and nearly 1,000 delivery trucks.
“The group is solid and I think our next 75 years will be even more special,” said Brooks Swentzel, president of Lexington, Ky.-based S&S Tire Service, a longtime Best-One dealership. S&S Tire Service operates 13 distribution centers throughout the Southeast, in addition to 13 commercial tire centers and two retread plants.
Think tanks and more
In an exclusive interview with MTD, Jon Zurcher, Tina Zurcher and Lindsey Beer detailed recently introduced Best-One initiatives that are already bearing fruit, including the organization's “Think Tank” program.
“Three times a year, we bring in any Best-One partner who wants to be part of this group and say, ‘As an organization, let’s talk about our strategic initiatives. What do we want to focus on? What’s most important?’” Beer told MTD. “We want to be on the front end of things and we want to make sure the initiatives we’re putting in place are things our partners actually need. It’s in the early stages,” but participation “has been awesome.” (Best-One's next Think Tank meeting will take place in December.)
Best-One also is developing additional best practices for dealers that will be rolled out across the organization. “There are things that would be easier if we all did them the same way,” said Beer. “And that’s one of the things our partners are realizing.”
Another initiative is the group’s Best-One Learning and Development (BOLD) training program, “which encompasses a little bit of everything. It covers retail, distribution and commercial/retreading. We go down the leadership avenue. We go down the personal development avenue. We offer things like courses in time management, managing conflict and communication and hard skills. It’s a train-the-trainer type of thing,” offered at no additional cost to Best-One dealers and their employees.
In addition, Best-One is developing a program that will teach interested dealers Spanish. “There’s a real need we’ve discovered for some of our folks to be bilingual, so we’re looking into a number of different options to offer Spanish language training,” said Beer. “We’re excited about that one.”
The group also provides options for Best-One dealers who want to retire or exit the business. “A lot of them have poured their life savings into their business,” said Jon. “We can help them find a solution within Best-One.”
When asked why more independent tire dealers are joining organizations like Best-One, Tina replied that “dealers are (becoming more) cognizant of the need for support at a higher level than maybe what they can (secure) on their own. In a lot of cases, our partners, depending on their size, may have a human resources person on staff. But we also have a corporate Best-One HR team that can offer support. We have a corporate legal team. We have certified public accountants. We have an IT team with an internal help desk.”
“None of us would be where we are without each other,” said Beer. “That’s the beauty of it. Nobody gets anywhere on their own.”
A night of honors
Best-One's 75th anniversary event – which included a trade show, a general session and break-out sessions – concluded with an award ceremony.
Kim McMahon, one of the owners of Fort Wayne, Ind.-based McMahon’s Best-One Tire, took home the Paul Zurcher Legacy Award. (Best-One was founded by Paul Zurcher, who opened his first tire store, Zurcher Tire, in 1948. Zurcher was MTD's Tire Dealer of the Year Award winner in 2005.)
Keegan Hite and Jason Clark, who work at Best-One of Indy's Riley Park (Ind.) store, received the Paul Weaver Good Samaritan Award for using CPR to save the life of a co-worker earlier this year. The award is named after Paul Weaver, longtime Best-One member and president of Southern Indiana Tire Inc., who is now retired.
Corene Scheumann, who works in Best-One's corporate office in Monroe, Ind., received The Heart of Best-One Award, for her countless contributions to the organization and its dealers.
A number of other honors were awarded to Best-One dealers. They included the Biggest Sales Increase Award, which recognizes locations that have achieved the biggest year-over-year sales gains; the Best Teamwork Award, which recognizes stores with the best payroll productivity; the Best Customer Service award, which honors stores that have the highest gross profit; the Most Fantastic Change Award, which honors stores that have achieved consecutive, year-over-year growth; the Best Improvement - Retread Plant Award; and the Best Performance Award – Retread Plant Award.
“The thing that makes us unique, I believe, is if you were to ask our partners, they would tell you that Best-One is a family,” Beer told MTD.
“We sincerely love, know and invest in our people,” added Tina. “These folks are truly our extended family.”