September 27, 2023

Every Bicycle Tire

Rolling And Moving

How Westside Tire & Service Thrives During Tough Times – Modern Tire Dealer

8 min read

Rich Rogenski is not an economist. But he has a pretty good handle on how to make money in a down market.   Rogenski – along with his sister, Lisa Walters, and their father, Dick Rogenski –  own Westside Tire & Service, a three-store dealership that’s based in Youngstown, Ohio.  

Located half-way between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, Pa., Youngstown offers struggled since the late-1970s, when the  once-prosperous   city began in order to lose its industrial base, which in turn, created a mass exodus of residents.

In 1970, eight years before Cock opened Westside Tire & Service, Youngstown had more than 139, 000 residents. By the end of the decade, which saw the particular shutdown associated with several major employers within the area, a lot more than 24, 000 people had left the city. Today, around 60, 000 individuals call Youngstown home, according to the U. S. Census Bureau.

High-paying jobs are less plentiful in Youngstown than they once were –  compounded, in no small part, by the 2019 closing of General Motors’ mammoth assembly plant in nearby Lordstown, Ohio. (The factory employed around 4, 500 people when it closed. Thirty years ago, this employed more than 10, 000. ) 

Many associated with Westside Wheel & Service’s blue-collar customers live on increasingly tight budgets. And the region boasts a much smaller car count.

These economic tides have swept away more than a few  independent   tire dealerships in Youngstown, says Rich. But Westside Tire & Service has found ways to not only  survive, but   thrive and grow.

The company’s formula is simple, he notes. “You work hard. You work  long . You do a good job. You take pride within what you do. And you adapt to what clients need. ”

This no-nonsense, roll-up-your-sleeves approach will soon carry the dealership into its 45th year in business.

Up in a down market

For much of the 20th century, Youngstown was a major steel manufacturing hub, along with many large companies — including U. S. Steel and Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. –  employing  the vast majority associated with   the particular city’s blue-collar workers.

In the late-70s, Dick Rogenski was working for an independent tire car dealership in Youngstown, where he grew up. He decided to strike out on his own. In 1978, he opened a small tire store on the west side of the town –  “hence our name, ” says Lisa, who was inside high school at the time.  

Rich, then 21 many years old, became Westside Car tire & Service’s first employee. It wasn’t the  greatest   time to open a small business in Youngstown, he admits.

On Sept. 19, 1977, Youngstown Sheet & Tube, a big employer in the area since 1900, closed the plants in nearby Campbell and Struthers, Ohio, instantly putting 5, 000 individuals out of work. The particular incident : known to this day within Youngstown as “Black Monday” –  would have the devastating domino effect upon the town plus its residents.  

It was a scary time, Wealthy remembers. “A great number of our customers worked at Youngstown Sheet & Tube. And many associated with those who didn’t work for Youngstown Sheet worked for U. H. Steel or Republic Metal. ” 

Circumstance. S. Steel would exit Youngstown in 1979. Republic Metal filed with regard to bankruptcy a few years later  

Despite the particular unstable economic  environment   around him, Dick had a vision that this individual continued in order to pursue, states Lisa, that started with the dealership because “the cleaning lady” and then became its bookkeeper. “Later on, I was a service advisor, ” she information. “I worked in the back office. We wore many hats. ”

The Rogenskis quickly established  Westside   Tire & Support –  after that a tires-only  operation   – as an affordable, service-oriented alternative to big box merchandisers.  

Business grew and Dick saw a need for further investment. “We had been open for about a year when our dad started an addition” onto the busy Youngstown store, says Rich. “He wanted to be full-service.   So   we added four bays onto the particular front from the building. ”

The particular expanded location soon experienced all the work it could handle. This particular prompted the particular Rogenskis to open their second store – located in nearby Niles –  within 1984.  

“We worked well very hard to get to that point, ” says Rich.

Meanwhile, the greater Youngstown area continued in order to shed jobs. New vehicle sales plummeted.

This helped fill Westside Wheel & Service’s bays, states Lisa. “When you’re inside a recessionary period like that, people don’t trade in their cars. ”

The freeze-thaw cycles that are the hallmarks of northeast Ohio weather during winter months — coupled with salt-covered roads : didn’t hurt either, says Rich.

“If you go back again to the 1970s and ’80s you couldn’t keep a car for 13 years. A person wouldn’t have anything left! ”

Westside Tire & Service continued to win new customers. It was soon time for another round of investment.

The Rogenskis opened their third store – a location in Austintown, a western Youngstown suburb – within 1987 “to help take some pressure off ” their two other outlets. (Dick is still the particular dealership’s CEO. )

They began looking at other revenue streams. One –  servicing local fleets –  began small, yet has paid big dividends.


Westside Tire & Service has more than 45 fleet accounts – everything from local building contractors, a TV station an the tree removal service to the Diocese associated with Youngstown, the Ohio Lottery Commission and a funeral home.

The business started since a sideline, according to Rich. “There was a good electrical contractor two blocks from our own original area that got done some work with us, ” he or she says

“They started sending their vehicles to all of us for tires and oil changes plus any repair their automobiles needed These people probably acquired five vans. And it just evolved from there. ”

A garage door installer grew to become the dealership’s second fleet customer. Soon other fleets began contacting Westside Car tire & Services.

The store became known as a place that could handle “vehicles that are usually too big for the average tire shop to work on and too small regarding a truck repair store to operate upon, ” notes Rich.

A local janitorial supply distributor signed onto Westside Tire & Service’s fleet program. “They have got four or five vehicles that we service, ” states Rich. “And their owners bring their own personal automobiles to us.

“A lot of people we had done business with became the customers. All of us like to do company with people who else do business with us all. ”

“Word-of-mouth offers had a lot to do” with the particular dealership’s success with fleets, according to Lisa. “One of our newest fleets came to us through Business Networking International (BNI), ” a business referral organization that Westside Tire & Service belongs to.

“A lady in our BNI group told someone who’s a fleet manager that he should give us a try, ” explains Mack. “And he was happy he did. ”

Rich and Lisa marketplace Westside Tire & Assistance as a “one-stop shop” intended for fleets associated with all sizes, vocations plus vehicles.

Each store has a dedicated bay for navy work “because we do not know if we’re going to get a Ford Focus or the Ford F-350 on any given day, ” states Rich. “It could be a 16-passenger bus. ”

Westside Tire & Service offers a wide range of auto maintenance and repair  services   — minus engine and transmission rebuilds, which are farmed out to local specialists when requested. “We’ll perform engine replacements, though, ” says Lisa.  

The particular dealership’s biggest fleet customer – a company that restores properties that have suffered water and fire damage –  has 70 vehicles. “And they’re possibly adding more at the end of the year, ” says High.  

Westside Tire & Service’s smallest  fleet customer   – a man who provides lawn care and snow removal solutions – has two vehicles.  

Rich and Mack put fast vehicles on regular maintenance schedules.

“The proprietors of these fleets are so busy running their particular businesses, ” says Affluent. “We get that off their plate for them. ”

Sometimes, however, fleet automobiles need immediate help due to breakdowns “and other emergencies, ” notes Wealthy. “Some drivers will worry when a van’s check engine light comes on plus will want that checked right aside. ”

“Just about anything the vehicle needs, we can do, ” says Lisa. “One of our latest accounts told us this individual was going to one (provider) for one service and another place for something else. We can do everything for them here.

“Another fleet client told people, ‘I have no records of anything. We do our essential oil changes in one location. Another company does our  brakes . Another company does our wheels. ’ We’ve centralized all of that. ”

Rich says Westside Wheel & Service is working with a vendor to develop an online portal “where our own fleet clients can access all of their (maintenance) records via their phones or laptops. ”

The dealership also offers digital vehicle inspections for both fleets plus regular customers. Photos associated with needed repairs – plus written details –  may be shared with clients, along with quotes, depending on customer preference.  

“We can send a video in our technician inspecting a tie rod end and the consumer can see the movement, ” states Rich. “Now they understand what it needs, rather compared to someone miles away telling them what’s needed.

“We started offering electronic vehicle home inspections around five years  ago, but   got really serious about it two yrs ago” during the COVID-19 pandemic, he says.

“Our customers were blown away by it. We all also have additional more texting with clients. It’s convenient to them.

“If I call plus say, ‘Hey, do you have time to talk right now? ’ they might become busy. Now we can text them the quote and (provide) a checklist” that will gives all of them the option of selecting what providers they need to buy now versus later.

Fleets also rely upon Westside Car tire & Program for replacement tire recommendations. “Very seldom does the fleet customer have a specific request for auto tires, ” records Rich, which says the particular dealership carries Kenda plus Nexen brand cargo tires for Ford Transits and other function vans.

Once Westside Tire & Service plugs a customer into a specific tire, “they will stick with this, ” he adds. “Fleets put a lot of trust in all of us to put the right thing on their vehicles. ”

The dealership solicits new fleet accounts simply by sending out letters, “telling them about us and what we can do for all of them, ” claims Rich.

Displacing the fleet’s current tire plus auto service provider : or multiple providers, in some cases –  isn’t always easy. “But once we get the foot within the door, customers know we have their best interests from heart, ” says Rich. “All of our own customers are usually treated along with dignity and respect. ” 

That, this individual adds, will be what ultimately keeps Westside Tire & Service’s customers  coming   back in order to the car dealership during – and despite –  tough times.  

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