Tire pro rolls experience into expertise
Tacoma, Wash.-Scott Welsh, of Courtesy Auto Service and Tire of Tacoma, has been a tire guy for his entire career, having begun with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. in 1983. He hasn’t looked back. Today, he owns the full-service auto repair and tire shop with his wife, Susan.
Over the past 33 years, Welsh said he has had extensive experience in the tire business that began at a Goodyear store in Salem, Ore., in 1983, as a sales manager. From there, he managed Goodyear stores in Portland and Eugene, Ore., served corporately as an area sales manager, area marketing manager, a telemarketing manager, and spent the six-plus years prior to opening the Tacoma store at Courtesy Tire in Lacey.
While at the Lacey store, then owned by Rick Parnell, Welsh said he learned from Parnell that the corporate Goodyear store at the Tacoma Mall was closing. A partnership was formed and the store continued operation under independent ownership.
Parnell remained a partner until retiring in 2007, Welsh said, and today the 5,000-square-foot store services 385 vehicles a month on average. With seven bays and four technicians, the store averages more than 50 alignments a month using a Hofmann wheel alignment and rim clamp machine, which he said is quick and efficient, as is the store’s Coats wheel balancer.
In the tire side of the business, which Welsh said represents about 20 percent of overall sales, the store sells a variety of brands to meet customer needs, including Goodyear, Dunlop, Kelly, and others. “I’m a G3X Goodyear dealer and the level of service and the competitive pricing of these products meets our needs and provides the price and quality of products that my customers expect. Goodyear has done a good job in consolidating tire lines across their family of products to make a more logical offering to consumers. Simpler is better.
“Consumers today do their research and know a lot about the tires they are going to purchase.”
With 80 percent of Courtesy’s business relating to maintenance and repair service, Welsh said about 25 percent of that involves ride control — shocks, struts, and suspension work. “We use Monroe products because they offer quality, comfort, good availability, and competitive pricing. We also use KYB shocks and struts where comfort is not a primary concern, and we like their quality and availability.”
For training, Welsh said his techs use Goodyear’s online training library and O’Reilly’s Auto Parts training throughout the year. “We occasionally send techs to WORLDPAC and CARQUEST training programs, as well as other local vendor training.”
With changes in vehicle technology, a variety of issues have been addressed by the tire and service facility. “Diagnosis and repair of tire pressure monitoring systems has become more prevalent, plus the higher volume of AWD vehicles and OEM use of traction control and stability control systems, ABS, and the relationship between tire wear and sizes have made us problem-solving experts.”
With a customer base that includes several fleet accounts, Welsh said Courtesy “provides a level of expertise and customer service that many shops don’t. We measure our customers, provide a loyalty program, and offer loaner cars. We market differently with an emphasis on our existing customers and don’t play the price game.”
He added that techs in the shop use tablets that provide a consistent, measurable way of inspecting vehicles and solving problems. “The information is available to our customers via digital means to assure transparency and promote trust, as well as build value.”
An EnviroStars-certified business since 2010, Welsh said Courtesy has a 4-Star rating. “It’s important to take steps to reduce our environmental impact on the Puget Sound Region.”
The store has also been a BBB A+ rated business since 2004.
The company was also a 2015 Top Shop Award winner from Tire Review magazine. “We’re proud of the award because the nomination process is extensive and covers customer service, expertise, store appearance, merchandising, business background, community involvement, and more.”
A matter that is dear to Welsh involves a recently launched scholarship program. It provides a $500 annual scholarship to students enrolled in automotive training programs at accredited colleges. “We wanted to offer something that was a benefit to automotive students, primarily on a local basis in the Auburn, Tacoma, and Olympia region, who want to pursue a career as a professional automotive technician. There is a shortage of good techs, so this is another way for Courtesy Auto Service and Tire of Tacoma to make an investment in the profession,” he said.