In business for over 50 years, McMahon’s Best-One Tire & Auto Center truly epitomizes what a Top Shop is all about: family-friendly customer service with the willingness to adapt to its customer’s needs and industry changes. Now with eight stores –five retail locations and 3 commercial and trailer locations—and one retread plant, the business has evolved since being honored as the first K&M Mr. Tire/Big 3 Tire Top Shop Winner in 2016.
McMahon’s Best-One was founded by Patrick McMahon Jr., in 1969 with a retail store in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana. Soon after, a second location was added, Patrick Jr.’s son, Patrick “Bubba” McMahon started working for the business and joined it when the company opened its first commercial tire center in 1988. Since then, the business has become known as one of the largest truck tire dealers in Indiana, and Bubba has taken over the business with his wife, Kim, president of McMahon’s Best-One, and Randy Geyer, a partner in the business.
In this interview series sponsored by K&M Tire, Kim delves into the changes the business has undergone since being named the 2016 Mr. Tire/Big 3 Tire Top Shop Winner seven years ago.
Watch the full interview above or read the transcription below.
Madeleine Winer, Editor of Tire Review: McMahon’s Best-One is the first winner of the Mr. Tire/Bog 3 Tire Top Shop Award, presented by Hankook Tire and O’Reilly Auto Parts, which is a very prestigious honor. Top Shop Winners are really known for their innovation and willingness to change with the times and with their customers. This is the case for your business. Since winning the K&M Tire Top Shop Award, how do you feel your business has evolved?
Kim McMahon, president of McMahon’s Best-One: Well, a lot has changed. In our business, we have since added six locations. We have three new retail locations, two mechanical truck locations and our retread plant. That’s been a lot. We’ve also added an HR department, which has helped us get new employees so that we can staff all these new locations. As far as the shop goes, particularly in retail, we’ve moved to digital inspections, which has been huge for our customers. They love it. Our guys do the inspections on a tablet, and it goes directly to our customers. They [customers] can decide what they want do or don’t want to do [service wise]. We’ve also been working on standardizing a lot of our retail operations to ensure that our customers get a consistent experience, no matter which of the stores they go to.
MW: Lots of expansion. Congratulations on that. And, a lot of technological changes.
KM: Actually, my sister was at a dealer, and she got [a digital vehicle inspection] and sent it to me and said, ‘I don’t know what this costs, but you need to do this.” I thought it was really cool, and it’s not that expensive. It just gives the customer a great experience.
MW: It seems like you all have noticed a difference in your customer interactions.
KM: Yes, especially because some customers don’t want to interact. They want to just text back or email. They don’t necessarily want a phone call to discuss it. This gives them that opportunity.
MW: McMahon’s Best-One is also one of the largest truck tire dealers in the state of Indiana. Can you describe the company’s commercial business? And what do you feel sets McMahon’s apart from its competitors?
KM: On the commercial side, we have locations that can handle every aspect of trucking. So, from selling new tires, installing them, alignments, mechanical…Now that we have a retread plant – we just added that this year—we can take care of every aspect of what a trucking customer needs, which really helps reduce their downtime. That’s what they need on the commercial side. It’s important in retail also, but on the commercial side, it’s costing them money, and they’re super appreciative of that. We also work constantly on emphasizing training. All our tire guys are TIA-certified, and we really focus on that and our customers recognize that.
MW: That’s great. So, adding the retread plant, how do you feel that has impacted your business in terms of offering additional services to customers?
KM: Well, it’s a whole different animal. It’s taken a little time to get used to. But now, we set our standards for quality and that gives our salespeople some added confidence in what they’re selling. It’s been great for us. The first couple of months were not easy, but the last couple of months have been much better.
I think that there is so much talk about retreads in the industry these days and the quality has keeps getting better. That’s going to be a game changer.
MW: Kim, you and your husband, Bubba, are co-owners of the business. You also have a partner, Randy Geyer, in the business as well. You all pride yourselves on adapting to new vehicle technologies. So, tell me about how you feel McMahon’s Best-One is doing that today.
KM: Well, I’m super excited about this, and we are literally just starting this, but we are establishing the McMahon Technology Center. We’re going to have a trainer who is honestly one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, and he is establishing training for every aspect of our business, from how we’re selling things to working with the general service guys to the commercial guys and actually putting together the different steps that make a consistent experience.
Also, we’re starting right now to plan for electric vehicles. They’re not there yet, you know? We’re not needing to work on them yet, but in five years, we’re going to, and at that point we will have already set out what the program is and how to deal with those. We will have already trained our employees by the time we get those vehicles in. This is going to be an all-encompassing program. I am super excited about it.
MW: That’s such an exciting development. Can you give a shout out to the trainer?
KM: Yeah, his name is Keegan Wentz, and he is amazing. He has already started laying the groundwork for all of this. So, check back with me next year on it.
MW: Will do. That sounds so exciting. It’s also another testament to how McMahon’s keeps innovating and keeps the skills of its employees up.
KM: I think what it’s also going to allow us to do is find employees who may not even know that this is something they’re interested in. It might not be necessarily working on vehicles, we’re talking about technology because that’s the way cars are going. We are hoping to get people who are looking to learn a trade to get a more diverse workforce, which is good for everybody.
MW: I know you said this is months down the line, but there’s always talk about the technician shortage in the industry and the labor shortage, in general, due to COVID. This seems like a great tool to address that. Is that how you all were envisioning it?
KM: Absolutely. We’ve done this for a while in that we don’t necessarily look for someone with experience because we’d rather take them on and train them and show them how we do things. But when you’re talking about a technician, like an A or B mechanic level, obviously they need to have experience and it’s difficult finding them. So, a couple years ago, we started just training on our own to get them to that level. This is just an expansion of that idea.
MW: So, Kim, McMahon’s, as I said, was named K&M Tire’s first Top Shop Winner, and I know you’ve gone to K&M Conferences in years past and seen others get honored with the award. I’m curious from your perspective, what do you think makes a Top Shop in this industry?
KM: I think there’s a couple of things. I think the biggest thing is the ability to adapt quickly. Things change so fast, and you need to be able to evolve and make decisions and say, ‘This is the direction we’re going to go,’ and not have to wait six months or a year before you make that decision. I think that’s hugely important. I think the other part of that is—and it may not be noticeable to the outside—is the culture within the company. I think that you’ll find across the board that people who win this award have excellent cultures within their company, their employees and the different stores.
Tire Review has worked with K&M Tire to develop an exclusive Mr. Tire/Big 3 Tire version of our industry-leading Tire Review Top Shop Award program. Winners and Finalists of this program are announced at K&M’s Annual Conference & Trade Show, and this year, we decided to reach out to past K&M Top Shop Winners to see how their businesses have changed since winning the award and what wisdom they can pass along to other shops in the industry. To nominate a K&M tire dealer for this year’s award, head to mrtiretopshop.com.