Building A Company One Tire At A Time: 7 Principles

When Tom Engler, CEO of Discount Tire, told us the story of his AzBL Leadership Award-winning company it was impressive:  nearly 17,000 employees, 900 plus stores in 28 states in the US, almost $5 billion revenue and a turnover rate of less than 10% of their full-time employees.

The last statistic was the one he ultimately focused on as the key to their success.  “How did we do it?” he asked, and then answered, “it’s the people.”  Among his remarks he identified at least seven principles for growing Discount Tire’s remarkable work force:

  1. “Everyone starts in a store” – the basic products are wheels and tires and everyone has to start at Discount Tire by performing the basic services provided to customers.
  2. “The key role is the store manager” – store managers manage the service delivery and they know how to do everything required by their workforce.
  3. “Generous bonuses based on performance” – while everyone is paid for their time, their performance is what generates remarkable results and profitability.  That’s what you want to reward.
  4. “We make sure employee needs are met first” – managers adopt a servant leadership mentality to assume that employee needs are at the forefront.
  5. “Hiring for attitude not skill” – the basic technical skills for providing good service can be taught to almost anyone, but attitude cannot.
  6. “Coaching and mentoring never stop” – coaching and mentoring are seen as an on-going way of supporting employees in achieving their dream.
  7. “Celebration and fun are key” – celebration is an essential part of a good life and everyone is in this together.

At the core of these principles is a belief that caring for and cultivating each other is important.  As Tom noted, “you are not alone, we are together.”  Integrity shows in your action and in the case of Discount Tire it has led to incredible prosperity for many people and their families.  Congratulations, Discount Tire!