In 2005, brothers Tanveer Grewal and Mandeep Singh — along with their father — emigrated from India to the United States with $100 in their pocket and dreams of someday running their own business.
Sixteen years later, Grewal, 36, and Singh, 32, are the owners of a thriving Big O tire store in Chico, Calif.
They bought the outlet from another Big O franchisee last June. And Grewal says the brothers could not be any happier with the decision they made.
“I’m an electrical engineer,” says Grewal. “That’s my background. My brother owned a very small trucking company.”
On the look-out for their next opportunity, they studied a variety of businesses “in an effort to narrow it down. We looked at the restaurant business. We looked at a pet supply franchise. And we thought, ‘What kind of business would be robust and have value well into the future?’”
The brothers also have friends who own small, independent tire dealerships. “We asked for their opinion, as well. We felt that the tire and automotive repair business would be a very robust one to go into.”
Their research led them to TBC Corp.’s Big O Tires franchise program. The brothers liked TBC’s “model and support structure” and applied to become Big O dealers. They then started talking with their store’s former owner in February 2021.
In the meantime, Big O “did its due diligence to make sure they were handing over a license to somebody who cares about their name,” he adds. Within four months, the brothers were up and running.
Their store — which pulls 40% of its sales from tires and the rest from auto service — came with an established customer base. But Grewal says there was a learning curve after they took ownership.
“We quickly learned that customers come in waves. It can be slow and then all of a sudden you have five or six customers waiting in line. And then it’s back to one or two customers.
“We cannot say, ‘There are only a few cars here. Let’s send somebody home to save on payroll’ and then an hour later, you have six or seven new cars on the lot. That was new to us.”
Grewal says the store has since settled into a manageable rhythm, which has given the brothers time to think about their next moves.
“We’re trying to start a mobile tire service and are looking into buying a van to equip with a tire changing machine and a balancer. We’re talking with TBC to see if they can help finance those machines for us. We’ve already looked at a van.”
California State University has a campus in Chico with more than 16,000 students. “We want to be able to go to campus and service students and faculty.”
Earlier this year, Amazon opened a fulfillment center in nearby Orland, Calif.
“We’re going to approach them” about performing tire replacements on delivery vans, says Grewal.
“We want to serve Amazon at its warehouse so there is less downtime for each van. Once our mobile service van is ready, we’ll have something to pitch.”
And opening a second store is not out of the question.
In the meantime, Grewal says taking care of customers will remain the brothers’ priority.
Recently, he reveals, an elderly couple brought their granddaughter’s vehicle in for an oil change. “She was planning to go on a long trip.”
During the oil change, a technician checked the car’s brakes and discovered that they needed to be serviced. After securing the customers’ approval, the brakes were brought back up to snuff.
The man and woman, who were originally unaware of the problem, profusely thanked Grewal and Singh.
“Another time, as we were closing at 5:30, a nurse came to our store. She had a nail in one of her tires. Our employees were leaving, but they stayed at the shop and repaired her tire right away. We could have easily said, ‘We’re closed. Come back tomorrow.’”
Instead, the store’s techs jumped into action and got the customer’s car up and moving again. “It gives me goosebumps when somebody helps someone else like that,” says Grewal.