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Goodyear's January Dealer of the Month Wilks Tire Maintains Family Atmosphere

Wilks Tire & Battery Service

When Wilks Tire & Battery Service opened its new 6 ½-bay commercial truck center and expanded its 40,000 square-foot warehouse in Albertville, Ala., on Jan. 24, 2002, it was the culmination of more than six decades of work by two generations of Wilks.

“It was a proud moment for our Dad, who had long wanted to have an easy-to-access facility from which to provide service to local trucking companies and owner-operators,” said Shane Wilks, president of Wilks Tire.

Shane and his brother, Craig, own and manage Wilk's Tire & Battery Service. Their father, Bill R. Wilks, founded Wilks Tire & Battery Service in 1952 and became a Goodyear dealer in 1980. Some years ago, Bill began buying property around the company's retail location and 3-bay truck center. He hoped to move the commercial business further away from its crowded location and into a new, much larger facility with ample room for truck parking and maneuvering. Bill died 10 days after his sons, Shane and Craig, fulfilled that vision.

Wilks Tire & Battery Service

The year the new truck center opened, Wilks was also chosen as first runner up for the statewide “Alabama Retailer of the Year” Award and first runner up in the “North Alabama BBB Torch Award,” for marketplace ethics. Since that 2002 opening, Wilks Tire has increased its business by 30 percent. Now, eight years later, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. has chosen Albertville, Ala.-based Wilks Tire & Battery Service as its Commercial Tire Dealer of the Month for January 2010.

“I know our Dad would be proud of this honor and what we've done to achieve it,” Shane said. “One of the high points of his career was when he became a Goodyear dealer.”

Each month Goodyear honors its top dealers that provide customers outstanding service, while helping them choose from among the Goodyear, Dunlop and Kelly tire brands. The dealer of the month honor also recognizes Wilks Tire for helping customers make full use of Goodyear services, such as fleetHQ and TVTRACK and GTRACS automated retread tracking system.

Wilks Tire & Battery Service

Wilks has grown from its one location in Albertville to a dealership with about a half dozen locations in north Alabama. The Wilks brothers credit the work of their employees and Marlin Brooks, a retired Goodyear executive whom they successfully recruited in 2006, for their company's growth. Wilks has four retail centers, three truck centers, including the one in Albertville, a distribution center, and a Goodyear-authorized retread plant, which the company opened in Albertville in the early 90s.

“As big as we are now, with 70 employees, we're proud of the family atmosphere we've kept all along,” Shane said. Shane and Craig's mother, Sara, who died in 1999, served as bookkeeper for the company her husband founded. Shane and Craig, who both started working for their parents in the ‘70s, took over the company when their parents semi-retired in the mid-90s.

In maintaining that family atmosphere, Shane said they still celebrate milestones in the lives of their employees with birthday potlucks and holiday celebrations. The company also provides employees education and training programs that Goodyear has available for dealers so that they stay current with the latest developments in tires and tire service.

Among other things, that training helps Wilks Tire maintain a low adjustment rate at its retreading plant, which produces about 100 tires per day and utilizes the Goodyear pre-cure method of retreading.

“If we don't have the best-trained staff to help our customers then we can't win against the competition,” Shane said. “Plus, it helps us keep our employees. We have a lot of employees who have been with us for 15-plus years. That's a lot of knowledge and experience that we can provide customers.”

Customers also benefit from the extensive lineup of tires that Goodyear offers at three different price points, said Craig, who serves as vice-president of marketing for Wilks Tire.

Wilks Tire & Battery Service

“With the Goodyear, Dunlop and Kelly brands, and the expertise of our employees, we can take care of the needs of most trucking companies and owner-operators in north Alabama,” he added. “That's because we offer a value, particularly for the guy who's running one truck to a handful of units.”

Wilks customers also benefit from fleetHQ, Goodyear's portfolio of business solutions for commercial fleets that includes an emergency roadside assistance program. With fleetHQ, Wilks Tire customers have one number: 866-fleetHQ (866-353-3847), to call for emergency roadside tire service throughout the United States and Canada. And customers pay the same tire price on the road that they pay at home.

“We pride ourselves in treating all of our customers, no matter how small, as if they are preferred fleets,” he added. “We're particularly proud of the fact that we've been gaining new business even in this down economy. Providing excellent products and excellent service is why we've managed to stay successful through the years.”