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Shop owner applies Goodyear experience to repair shop business

Tuesday, March 6, 2018 - 09:00
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What you bring to the table is vital. Craig Walter became an independent when he took over Don’s Auto Ade Tire & Auto Repair back in 2003, but the time he spent as a regional manager for Goodyear gave him insight into business philosophies and practices years before sharing such info became popular. Heck, he was frequently its source when working with various shops and dealerships.

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At a Glance:
Don's Auto Ade
Warrenville, Ill.
Craig Walter
No. of shops
Years in business
No. of technicians
Total no. of employees
No. of bays
No. of customer vehicles per week
$1.1 million
Annual gross revenue

Take the fairly recent trend of car care clinics; Walter recalls placing a newspaper ad back in 1977 which offered to hold clinics for women only. “I had that underlined,” he notes. “It was an $8.50 ad that I answered for almost two years, and it turned into something great. (Clinics aren’t) anything new. 

 “I started with Goodyear in ’68 and worked for them for 25 years,” states Walter. “I started out as a technician and worked my way up to store manager, then retail sales manager.” Once he became the Regional Automotive Service Manager, Walter was involved in establishing Goodyear’s training centers in the Chicagoland area, which included Warrenville, Ill., home to Don’s Auto Ade.

“Don started the shop years ago when he was a parts guy,” Walter explains. “As time went on he get tired of doing that and got into auto repair, and that’s when I met him in the late '70s.”

But Don had a reputation with company reps — he didn’t tolerate them. “He had a Goodyear sign up, but he wasn’t selling Goodyear tires,” chuckles Walter. “I stopped there several times, and of course he threw me out. By the third time he finally said he wasn’t interested since we really didn’t care about his business. I told him I did — that’s why Goodyear sent me.”

From left to right: Dan (full technician), Matt (trainee), Sam (service manager), Craig Walter (owner/tech/service manager), and Jason (trainee)

Don used the excuse that he didn’t have enough room to stock tires. “So I told his guy behind the counter that I would come back Saturday,” says Walter. “I cleaned up a storage room they had; the next week I told Don they now had space for 50 Goodyear tires. He started buying them.” And eventually became a Goodyear dealer.

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