Anyone who stores their winter tires in the garage, especially if they’ve got more than one vehicle, knows just how much room they can take up. Now imagine that for hundreds of vehicles ranging from the family sedan to trucks and farm tractors. You’d need space, and lots of it.
That’s precisely the reason Elmira’s OK Tire moved into expansive new digs on Arthur Street, less than two kilometres from the operation’s longtime Howard Avenue location.
The new building is still undergoing some tweaks, but it already feels like home, says co-owner Robert Bowman, who knows a thing or two about the operation’s growth over the years. He joined OK Tire as an employee when the company came to Elmira in 1993, eventually taking ownership a decade or so later, experiencing firsthand the situation at the former Howard Avenue site.
“I worked as an employee until 2004, and then I took it on as the sole owner at that time,” said Bowman, who took on a co-owner in Eric Brubacher about three years ago, part of a progression that he says felt “natural.”
As the business grew, Bowman knew it would need more space, eventually making plans for the much-larger facility now open in the south end of town.
“We were tight for space. We were running out of storage space, and floor space for actual working inside, especially on the transport truck side, the tractors – we didn’t have any space to work inside,” he explained.
The new location is about four times the former’s size and has a bay for transport trucks, plenty of room for storage and office space.
The facility is organized in terms of tires and the needed storage space, arranged for optimum access. “Half of its agriculture, a quarter of it is passenger, light truck and industrial, and then and then the other quarter is medium truck,” he said of the layout.
Being situated in a visible spot on the main drag has been great for business, says Bowman, noting the community reception so far has been positive.
“It’s been great. The exposure by the road has been more exposure to people coming in.
“We look forward to working with them. Customers are what makes our business, along with great employees.”
Bowman said he is grateful to his entire staff and crew, noting it’s been a team effort to get the business to where it is today.
Now in the height of tire-changing season, the OK Tire staff won’t have time to rest on their laurels. The extra space will be put right to use, with winter tires in inventory and plenty of room for storing customers’ summer tires.
There’s no knowing just when customers will come in for the swap: some are early birds, while others wait until the last minute – often after the first snowfall – to get the work done. Bowman does know, however, that his crew will be busy from now until well into December with that seasonal aspect of the business.
An independently owned and operated part of more than 300 OK Tire network, the Elmira operation is located at 371 Arthur St. S.