When Chuck Sutton began his work in tires and tire servicing with a pickup truck from his family home 31 years ago, little did he know his business would become a family affair.
“Our father operated the business out of our house,” said Ron Sutton, Chuck’s youngest son and co-owner of Portland, Ore.-based Sutton Tire & Chain. “He would go out in his pickup truck and help truck drivers by servicing or changing their tires at the truck stops. He didn’t really have plans to have a store, it just sort of all fell into place.”
Today, Sutton Tire & Chain operates out of its northeast Portland location about a mile west of the U.S. Interstate 84 and U.S. Interstate 205 interchange. From that location, Sutton Tire delivers tires and tire-related services in a large geographic area that includes much of the Portland suburbs southeast of the city, southwest Washington from Kelso to Yakima, and the Eugene, Ore., area.
Instead of servicing tires with a pickup truck, the company now operates a fleet of seven service trucks to provide roadside service. Plus, it has a warehouse across the street to keep a large selection of Goodyear, Dunlop and Kelly commercial tires, and Goodyear retreads manufactured using the UniCircle and Precure methods.
But one thing hasn’t changed in the 31 years since Chuck started the company, Ron said, and that’s his father’s emphasis on “service, service, service.”
Each month, Goodyear honors its top dealers that provide outstanding service for commercial fleet customers. The Dealer of the Month honor recognizes Sutton Tire & Chain for helping fleets solve problems through fleetHQ’s portfolio of business solutions. That includes helping them choose from Goodyear, Dunlop and Kelly tires, delivering outstanding service and providing information solutions that help them make better business decisions. Sutton also takes advantage of the company’s training resources and tools for dealers.
“My Dad was all about providing great service,” Ron said. That’s a family tradition Ron, his brother, Greg, his sister, Kym, his son, Chris, and his daughter, Carrie, have carried on. It’s this family tradition of service that has, in part, earned Sutton Tire & Chain designation as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company’s April Commercial Tire Dealer of the Month.
“It makes us all feel great knowing that the tradition of service our father instilled in all of us has earned the respect of Goodyear,” Ron said. “It’s awesome and a great honor for our company.”
Ron attributes part of his company’s success to the relationship it has forged with Wingfoot Commercial Tire, which manufactures the 5,000 to 8,000 commercial tire retreads Sutton Tire sells each year. “The great relationship we’ve developed with Wingfoot manager Lane Bibb’s help has really made it possible for us to offer our customers a great product to help them get more value out of their tire budgets.”
Being able to offer Kelly Tires to more initial purchase price-conscious customers has also been an advantage for Sutton Tire, Ron said. “We’ve found that Kelly has become a popular choice among owner-operators from the large Russian and Ukranian communities in the Portland area. But while Kelly appeals to their sense of value, price is still secondary. We’ve found that when they feel we’ve treated them fairly, that becomes like a chain reaction. We’ve gotten more word-of-mouth business from the Russian and Ukranian immigrant communities because of that, even though none of us speak Russian.”
Ron said the training that Goodyear offers enhances the work that his employees do because it helps them stay knowledgeable about tires and services.
“With all of the new developments that Goodyear offers, education must be a constant process so that we know how and when to offer them to our customers.” That education helped Sutton Tire introduce Goodyear’s new trailer tires with DuraSeal + Fuel Max, he said.
“We’ve been able to recommend Goodyear tires with Armor MAX to local companies, who’ve enjoyed its strong performance in high-scrub applications,” Ron said. Armor MAX offers advanced compounds and construction for enhanced toughness and was among the first commercial light truck tires in the industry to meet the new regulations set forth under the TREAD Act.
“One of our customers, a street sweeping company, switched from using light truck tires with fabric casings to the Armor MAX commercial tires and doubled their miles to removal and had practically no downtime as a result,” he said.
“But new technology can only go so far in meeting our customers’ needs,” he added.
“Instead of relying on voicemail, e-mail or texts, we try hard to answer our phone because it’s important for our customers to be able to reach us when they need our help,” Ron said. “But when that’s not possible, we’ve been able to make use of the fleetHQ Solution Center for some of our after-hour calls.”
fleetHQ is Goodyear’s portfolio of business solutions for commercial fleets that includes an emergency roadside assistance program.