I started it myself in Blackpool. We're trading there for 30 years. I was working in a garage when I was in school, and after the leaving cert I started at it full time. After a year I went into business for myself. I went in at the deep end. It was tough and I had to train myself. I got a bit of help, but it was almost all self-training. I wanted to set us apart, so, from the word go we were open seven-days a week, and we've been doing that for 30 years. We stay open until 10pm too, so we're always there when people need us. We built the business on honest advice, quality service, and value for money. It's all local too. We have all local lads working here. A lot of multinational companies would come in here, and all their money goes overseas, but we keep it local.
Six years ago. We first opened up in Little Island, next to the NCT centre. Then we started in Carrigaline last year. We took over T Tyres, which had been trading for 25 years when the owner retired. We have a fourth branch that we are getting ready on Vicar's Road. It was the old Goodyear headquarters. That's being done up at the moment so we can get in there.
Tell us about your stock.
We buy straight from the factories so that we get the best price for the customer. We stock all the premium brands like Michelin and Goodyear. You can't overstate the importance of good tyres. The only thing between the road and the car is the tyres. People might try to save money by buying cheaper tyres or used tyres, but sometimes the better brands are only a few euro more. You get what you pay for, and the better brands have better stopping power and brake distance.
Technology has changed too. Cars from 141 on have pressure valves built in that tell you when you have a low tyre. The emission rules have changed things too and what's required for tyres. One issue is that a lot of newer cars don't have a spare tyre because of the weight. But we have the Bridgestone Drive Gaurd tyres that can run when they're flat. For a tenner more on your tyre, you can get assurance that if you have a puncture you'll be able to drive about 80km, instead of having to get roadside assistance.
We do a lot of the big fleets. We do the Garda fleet, the An Post fleet, Eir's fleet. We also do a lot of work for company cars. A few big companies rent out the cars to the companies and include servicing with it, and they go through us for the tyres.
We have a lot of loyal customers too, Our name is our bond and we look after the customer so they come back again. The customer is boss and you have to give them what they want. That's why we expanded into other areas. We do tyres, but we also do wheel and head alignment, we do bulbs and licence plates. We moved in next to the NCT office to make things easier for people. If they fail because of a faulty bulb or a wiper, they just have to come next door instead of having to go back into town and taking a day off work to sort it. That's why we wanted to expand into the southside too, to make it easier for people. That's why we open on Sundays and bank holidays. We're not trying to make a fast buck. It's about customer services. We try to get people turned around in 20 minutes. People are busy and they don't have time to drop off their cars and wander around town for a few hours while they are waiting to get sorted. We aim for five-star service and five-star depots, and that goes from everything from the garage to the waiting rooms.
Tell us about your staff.
We have 10 people working for us. They're 100% Cork, 100% local. Derek O'Donoghue runs the branch in Little Island, Adrian McCarthy runs the branch in Blackpool, and Paul O'Donnell runs the branch in Carrigaline.
We took home a few trophies in the last few months. The Little Island Business Association gave us the Customer Service Excellence award. We get the Cork Business Award for Best Tyre Centre, and Tyre Trade Journal named us the best tyre centre in Munster.
It's all about having a bit of cop on and a good manner with people. That will take you far. It's all about passion too. I live and breathe this.