Q&A with Ron Dyck, owner of True Balance Tires

RON DYCK: “We’re not putting too much emphasis on getting bigger and bigger; rather, we try to service our existing customer base properly.”

It was a Saturday. Ron Dyck didn’t realize until past mid-afternoon that one of the tires of his vehicle was deflated. He needed the vehicle the following day; he must, therefore, get a flat repair. He investigated his options and then decided to drive 90-95 kilometers to Dawson Creek, instead of Spirit River, a 70-kilometer distance from where he was in Silver Valley. This day being a Saturday, the Dawson Creek location was the one that stayed open for a full day until 5pm.

He knew he had a small window of time to get to the Dawson Creek tire shop before it would close for the day, so he drove a little faster than the speed limit allows. That judgment call proved costly. A police cruiser spotted him, flagged him down, and issued him a speeding ticket.

To some, the story might simply evoke humour and laughter. But to residents in the immediate vicinity of Silver Valley, the story strikes a familiar chord, even a personal experience. “Farmers have to drive that far to get a simple flat repair,” Dyck told The Central Peace Signal.

He saw a felt need for a tire shop in the community. In May 2005, he started selling tires at an unused space in his property.

Question: Please give us a little bit of background of True Balance Tires. What were the circumstances that led to the business being formed?
Answer: We saw a need in the community for a tire shop. In May 2005 we formed True Balance Tires and started selling tires part time. I was welding at the time. We brought tires from a tire shop in Vanderhoof, BC, where I used to work from when I was 16 until I was 18. For the next 12 months or so, I was welding full time as well as selling tires. Finally, the time came when I had to decide to let go of one and pursue the other. I decided to stop welding and pursue selling tires full time.

We started out with tires, and then we just slowly evolved. We now also carry aftermarket parts and accessories as well as provide automotive mechanics service. We’ve outgrown our first location and decided to build a bigger space where we are right now.

Josh Enns is assistant manager of True Balance Tires.

How are you setting youself apart from the competition?
We believe in a high level of service, and we keep a large inventory of items that are time-sensitive as well as common tire sizes. We keep in stock, for instance, rims, tubes as well as every known tire sizes of farm implements. Farmers account for a big share of our customer base. So does the oil industry. We do a lot of oilfield maintenance. So, we try to have excellent service, and we also try to have on hand items that people need.

How has the business grown over the years? Has your business model changed over the years? If so, how? How did you keep yourself relevant over the years?
Growth has been positive and steady. We’re not putting much emphasis on expansion; rather, we try to service our existing customer base properly. We’re not in the business of just trying to get bigger and bigger. We’re happy with our customer base, and we also don’t mind new customers. But we wanted to make sure we can service our clientele properly and not get so busy and so big that we don’t have time to call them back and do the job properly. Word of mouth from satisfied customers is our best advertising. Our business model has always been fair prices and good service.

Who are your customers? Where are they from?
Our customers include our neighbors, the people in the community at large and those in the surrounding areas within a 200-kilometer radius. We even have customers from Grande Prairie. I really have no definitive explanation as to why they come. All I could think of is that our service drew them in. We have a lot of new customers who have come to us referred by our existing customers. I’ve made many friends from Dawson Creek to Grande Prairie.

Cordell Toews is an automotive service technician.

Some of our customers come as far away as Red Deer and Edmonton. They come to the area either to visit relatives or to go hunting. As much as we can, we try to be flexible with our out-of-town customers.

We work Monday through Friday, but sometimes I open the shop for them on a Saturday if that is the only time they can come in.

Has manpower ever been an issue considering that your business requires people with technical expertise and experience?
In the past it was an issue because we didn’t have a licensed mechanic. I’ve done mechanics since I was a young boy, but I never got a license, so I could not apprentice anyone. We got Cordell (Toews) through school and the certification process, and now that he is licensed, he can apprentice anyone. Right now, I have a very good crew.

How difficult is it to keep a business afloat in a small community?
The community may be small, but it’s big enough to support a business. I opened my shop and started seeing people come through the door. We have a good community with good people. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Where do you plan to take the business in the next, say, five years?
We have an 18-acre parcel of land purchased along Range Road 93. We are in the process of building a new shop attached to an existing building that will be our office. We would like to move into that shop in the next few years giving us more room to service our customers more efficiently.

How are you dealing with some of the challenges in your day-to-day operation?
One of our major challenges is our distance from our suppliers. We have been able to offset these challenges through the loyalty of our amazing customers. I do own a crew cab long box, which I’m using to pick up stuff for our business. I’d like to emphasize on “long box” because I do want to make our trips to town count.