Modern Tire Dealer

MAR 2019

Magazine for the professional tire industry

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M T D M a r c h 2 0 1 9 4 E d i t o r i a l T here's no "I" in "team" or "teamwork." ere is, however, an I in "independent." And that still means a great deal in the tire industry. We lost three truly independent tire dealers within a three-week period earlier this year. Charley Gowland, co-founder of Chabill's Tire and Auto Service LLC in Morgan City, La., died on Jan. 24. Mike Gatto, who started Gatto's Tires and Auto Service in Melbourne, Fla., died on Feb. 11. Only two days later on Feb. 13, Roland Lesieur, co-owner of Maynard & Lesieur Inc. in Nashua, N.H., passed away. Independents are the bedrock of the tire industry. That foundation is very hard to crack, even when we lose luminaries such as these three gentlemen. Why? Perhaps because they leave behind both the basics and secrets of running a tire store to the next generation whenever possible. ese dealers were extraordinarily independent. ey were successful. ey gave back to the industry and the communities they loved. ey spoke their minds. Lesieur, 89, was a supporter of the New England Tire and Service Association. He not only served as president, but also wrote a column in the association's newsletter, e Road Runner, for many years. He wrote from the heart, and rarely, if ever, held his tongue. Here are some of his insightful musings. "e question of tire aging continues to come up. e tire companies… will have to address the issue at some point before the legislatures do it for us. My personal opinion is that there are a lot of politicians looking for some free publicity on this issue." Summer 2009 "Sears is closing 120 stores around the country. I remember when they downgraded business in downtown Nashua many years ago. In this day and age, it is impossible to stay on top forever." Spring 2012 "I hear college graduates won't accept jobs (where) they cannot call out or take personal calls. is is going to grow into a huge problem." Summer 2012 It looks like the retail and wholesale business started by Roland's father, Leo, and his grandfather Emile "Pop" Maynard in 1928 will stay in the family for many years to come. In addition to his sons Steve, Mark and Larry, and his daughter, Cheryl Lesieur Appelstein, three of his grandchildren also are working at Maynard & Lesieur. Gatto, 93, spent 22 years working at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. before he opened up his own tire dealership in 1971. ere are now six stores in Brevard County, Fla., under the direction of his daughter Pam Gallo. "Everything I know about business and life I learned from my dad," she says. "He was the best sales and marketing guy in the business, and I was in accounting. So we were a good combination." I asked her if she could think of any business rules in particular he had taught her. Two quickly came to mind. "He always said to hire slow and fire fast. And sometimes you have to fire a customer. I remember years ago we were both at the counter at the Melbourne store, and we couldn't please one of our customers." Here's how she described the conversation between her dad and the customer, Mr. Jones. "We don't seem to be able to satisfy you, Mr. Jones. I suggest you go to the Firestone store across the street." "I've already been there." "Well then, I suggest you go Sears." "I've already been there, too." "en I suggest the problem may be you and not us!" Now it's Gallo's turn to teach the third generation, including her sons Mike and Scott, how to run the business. en there's Gowland, 76, who with his business partner, Billy Parker, formed Chabill's — an acronym of their first names — in 1968. In addition to helping build a 17-store chain in Louisiana, he served the Louisiana Independent Tire Dealers Association for several years in a number of capacities, including president. He was an outspoken member of Modern Tire Dealer's National Advisory Council. If the name sounds familiar, he was the first dealer to publicly criticize Goodyear for selling tires online. "Goodyear selling tires directly to consumers is a real problem for me," he wrote in a letter to our magazine shortly aer the news broke in 2015. "You, the dealer, have a much better chance at establishing a relationship with a new customer if you are the one who sold the tires." Two years later, his viewpoint had soened. "Fieen percent of tire transactions are going to happen online," he told me. "You certainly want to be a part of it, but you don't want to be a part of that and lose money." He died less than two months aer naming another industry veteran, his daughter Beth Barron, CEO of the company. All three of the deceased le their family businesses in good shape, with family ownership intact. Call it the business world's answer to the circle of life. ■ If you have any questions or comments, please email me at 'I' is for Independent OUR INDUSTRY LOSES 3 OUTSPOKEN AND FAMILY-ORIENTED TIRE DEALERS Bob Ulrich By 'HE ALWAYS SAID TO HIRE SLOW AND FIRE FAST,' SAID GALLO.

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