Small Business Success Story: Point S Tire and Auto Service
This veteran-owned family business has begun to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic with an eye toward expanding beyond its location in Spanish Fork, Utah.
Lance Ashby has a single piece of guidance for aspiring entrepreneurs: Don’t wait.
“I waited way too long in life to make the jump,” says Ashby, who owns Point S Tire and Auto Service in Spanish Fork, Utah. “Don’t be afraid, just do it. Get a good plan and find a great mentor. I waited until I was 54 years old and should have done it 20 years ago.”
For Ashby, who operates the business with his 24-year-old son Ethan, that mentor was none other than Les Schwab, the eponymous tire center founder.
“The Les Schwab organization did a really good job of training me,” Ashby says. “I remember going to a new employee meeting and Les himself stood up and said, ‘The day you’re ready to manage a store for me I’ll build a store for you.’ I’m living proof that he did that.”
Ashby says, “He taught me how to manage stores and be responsible for both the profits and the losses as well. It taught me how to be a good businessperson. That’s where I’ve drawn most of my experience from.”
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic set his business back in 2020, Ashby has no regrets. Here, he shares the strategies that have helped the business survive and thrive once again.
How long have you owned Point S Tire and Auto Service?
We purchased Spanish Fork Automotive on December 10, 2019 and joined the Point S group of independent tire dealers with 4,500 locations across the U.S. Prior to that, I spent 18 years with Les Schwab, and then went into the power sports industry.
Why did you want to have your own small business?
My 24-year-old son has always been an entrepreneur. He came home from serving a mission for our church and decided we needed to do something. He wanted a shop, and that fit with my background. We’re a mom-and-pop shop but we want to eventually expand to give our employees the opportunity to grow and develop.
We started thinking we’d build from the ground up, but as time went on, we decided to look at existing businesses for sale. Spanish Fork is growing like crazy and our shop is strategically located. And we’re fortunate to have retained all of the previous owner’s employees, who bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the business.
How do you navigate the father-son relationship at work?
Communication is a big deal between us. I try to stow the “dad hat” at home when I’m at work, showing him the consideration of an equal and a peer instead of a father-son relationship. It’s important to allow him to express and implement his thoughts and ideas. Sometimes I have to pull the reins back because he wants to go so fast, but it’s really good to have a business partner that has vision and is driven and has direction. The hardest thing for him was going in and earning respect of employees who are older than him. Over time they’ve seen that he knows what he’s doing.
What inspired you to enlist in the Idaho National Guard?
From the time I was 10 years old I always knew that I would serve in the military. My Scoutmaster Mike Webster was member of the National Guard in St. Anthony, Idaho. I liked the structure and discipline of the military and liked the values it instilled. At the end of 1987 I returned from my mission in Vienna, Austria, where I had opportunity to interact with people who had escaped communism, and that really intensified my desire to serve. I just wanted to give back to a country that’s given me everything that I have. On the worst day the U.S. is better than the best day of any other country in the world.
How do your military skills translate to being a successful small business owner?
There are definitely some skills that I learned that really helped me in my career in terms of being able to lead individuals, communicate with individuals, and interact with the public. It also taught me how to execute orders and also how to give orders and follow up.
How has Zions Bank helped with your entrepreneurial journey?
I knew Zions Bank had a good track record and great reputation, and everything was flawless. Our SBA loan went faster than anticipated. We applied in August and by Dec. 10 we were in business. Within a week my relationship manager Lynette McElprang told me we had received preliminary approval from Zions Bank.
In addition, she helped us during the pandemic with our Paycheck Protection Program loan, and we’re in the process of applying for forgiveness now. There again, in three days I had notification from Zions Bank that it had moved on to the SBA. Zions Bank goes over and above in under promising and overdelivering, which is fantastic.
Looking to start or grow your own small business? Zions Bank offers online business tools including business templates, columns, videos and financial calculators. Our Business Resource Centers in Salt Lake City and Boise provide 1-on-1 counseling and group training for entrepreneurs.
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