From left: Customer service staff at Preedy’s Tire & Automotive includes longtime service advisor and manager Mel Fries, Service Advisor Deidre Steppe, Owner Kelly Wright, and Service Advisor Luke Ensor.Preedy’s Tire & Automotive Owner Kelly Wright stores thousands of customer’s winter tires.Leonard Porath, a nine-year veteran at Preedy’s and the alignment specialist, works on a customer’s tire.

Preedy’s keeps rolling after 55 years

After a career in ballet, Kelly Wright transitioned into successful service and repair

Spokane, Wash.—Preedy’s Tire & Automotive has been around for 55 years in the Inland Northwest, said Kelly Wright, AAM, co-owner with his wife, Carolyn, AAM. And the 9,000-square-foot shop has made its mark in downtown Spokane by serving thousands of customers with tire, alignment, and full-service auto repair work ever since.

Wright joined Preedy’s full time in 1986 after a successful career with the Alberta Ballet Company, Moscow Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, and others. The business was founded by his father, Emmett, and brothers Dale and Cloyce Preedy, in the early 1960s. Wright purchased the shop from his father in 1992.

With a database of some 7,500 customers, Preedy’s average monthly car count is 450, including cars, trucks, RVs, and other vehicles, said Luke Ensor, service advisor and eventual owner of the company.

“Our three service advisors and six techs are pretty busy in an average week,” Wright said.

Tires and related service work are the foundation of Preedy’s, assisted by a 3,000-square-foot tire storage building adjacent to the shop to store customer’s winter tires.

“We have about 3,000 winter and studded tires we store for about 750 customers, all tagged and inventoried. In September we do an inspection of the tires and remind customers that we have the tires, inform them of tread condition, and begin the process of setting appointments to have their winter tires installed,” he said, adding that most customers want to be prepared for the season that allows for winter/studded tires from Nov. 1 to April 1. “By offering the storage service, we get most of those customers in the shop at least twice a year, not only for tires but other maintenance and service work.”

Being one of two G3Xpress Goodyear dealers in Spokane for the past 10 years, Wright said that brand is the most sold at the store, including handling Goodyear national accounts, but many other brands such as Michelin, Continental, BF Goodrich, Bridgestone, General, Uniroyal, and others.

“We’re a family-owned operation and deal with many third- and fourth-generation family members, so we advise customers to purchase what is best for their needs — we’re not necessarily brand driven.”

 “Marketing tires is a different breed than performing general auto repair Wright said. “It’s competitive, it’s a perishable commodity, customers need to be made aware of tire aging issues and expanded tire sizing, as well as larger wheels and lower profile tires, which makes it impossible to stock much inventory.”

A longtime member of Tire Pros buying group, Wright said changes within that group and their use of ATD, a nationwide tire distributor with a warehouse in Spokane, has affected Goodyear and Firestone/Bridgestone products.

“Those brands left ATD and formed an unusual alliance with their own distribution system, but as of now we do not have a distribution center in Spokane. One is expected to be opened here, but for now we are getting daily UPS deliveries from the Seattle area for those products. Plus, we have other distributors in Spokane and we’re expanding our Continental Tire presence as a national account."

A longtime supporter of the local Shriner’s Hospital, Wright said the store has donated tires and service for hospital for years. “They provide amazing care to those in need and we’re very pleased to help them in our own way.”

Preedy’s has two alignment machines that are used for four to five daily alignments, more during the November-April time periods, Wright said. “We have an older Hunter machine, but Hunter became too expensive to update so we purchased a John Bean Visualiner PRISM 42 that works very well for us and is less expensive to update.”

Preedy’s also provides alignments to local collision shops. Some industry reports indicate that when performing alignments and replacing suspension parts, ADAS systems such as lane departure, adaptive cruise control, and blind spot monitoring can be affected. Wright said techs at his shop have replaced some backup sensors, but has yet not experienced other issues. Technicians get training for handling those systems at the Automotive Training Expo (ATE) and other sources.

Due to tire and alignment work, suspension system work is also a prominent part of Preedy’s service, said Ensor, a 15-year veteran at Les Schwab Tires prior to joining Preedy’s two years ago. “We use KYB products because we like all-gas shocks for ultimate performance,” he said.

In addition to ATE training for most of the staff each March, Wright said other classes offered by ASA Northwest, suppliers, and others are attended during the year.

“I have been involved with 20 groups for almost 30 years, and my involvement in ASA Northwest has been exceptional.” Wright is a former board member and chairman of the board of ASA Northwest, and was named the ASA Northwest Outstanding Member of the year in 2008. Preedy’s is also a member of the Northwest Tire Dealers Association.

   

Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.