Small Business Spotlight: Couples combine their experience to take on tire business

09/03/2014 1:37 PM

09/03/2014 5:24 PM

Two Wichita couples are hoping a variety of career backgrounds will help them succeed in the tire and auto repair business.

Only one of the four, Cheryl Guthrie, has much experience with tires. She was general manager of Kennedy Tire for years before its owner, Larry Kennedy, decided to sell the place.

Guthrie’s fiance, David Holmes, has used his background in construction to renovate the location in Indian Hills. His co-owners, Troy and Sarah Davis, are bringing experience in accounting, computers and marketing to the venture.

“We’re not all family, but we’re pretty close,” Holmes said of the foursome.

Kennedy Tire sells tires for automobiles and other vehicles, specializing in the Michelin, Goodrich and Uniroyal brands. It also offers a variety of vehicle repair services.

Larry Kennedy opened the shop in 1988 in a former Mobil gas station that dates to 1953. Holmes said Kennedy built a loyal clientele through the years, and the new owners hope to expand from that base.

“It’s one of those kind of down-home places where you walk in and customers are talking to each other,” Holmes said.

The store attracts a lot of female customers, he said, partly because they enjoy dealing with Guthrie. “They know they’re not going to get ripped off,” he said.

Troy Davis said Kennedy Tire tries to set itself apart in the competitive tire business by including service in the price of tires, such as mounting, balancing, rotating and repairing flats.

“We’ve found that people really like that.”

The store is also known for selling tires of unusual sizes for a variety of commercial customers.

“For example, one customer is the (Sedgwick County) zoo,” Davis said. “They go through a lot of cart tires, as you can imagine.”

About a third of the shop’s revenue comes from such repair work as shocks, brakes and alignments. It’s a part of the business that the partners are trying to expand by marketing its mechanics, Davis said.

“We don’t rebuild engines or (repair) transmissions, but just about anything else,” Holmes said.

Davis called Guthrie “the heartbeat of the store.”

Davis and his wife have brought its record-keeping, billing and marketing up to date.

Holmes, in addition to “a lot of paint and elbow grease,” brings great customer relation skills to the operation, Troy Davis said. “He’s just one of the nicest, friendliest guys you can imagine.”

And a decent cook as well, Davis added, cooking hamburgers and hotdogs for more than 100 people during a recent customer appreciation day.

“He was on the grill all day.”

Now you know

Kennedy Tire

Address: 3250 W. 13th

Phone: 316-945-7131

Owner: David Holmes, Troy and Sarah Davis

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