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6 • June 15, 2011 • Snoqualmie Valley Record


Decades of commitment T

wenty years have brought a lot of changes to the North Bend Les Schwab Tire Center. But some things have stayed the same. While business boomed and the Valley grew up around them, Les Schwab staff have always kept their emphasis on loyalty, honesty and service. The tire center celebrates its 20th anniversary in business this week. Les Schwab opened its doors in a much different town on June 26, 1991. “When I first came here, it was definitely a small logging community,” said Manager Kevin Schallhorn, who was hand-picked to open the store and has remained ever since. Schallhorn moved his family to the Valley after assisting at the Clackamas, Ore., tire center.

In Brief

Workshop looks at Snoqualmie vision, gaps City of Snoqualmie staff and the Snoqualmie Planning Commission are working on a draft of the “City Vision”, and taking an inventory of walking and biking gaps in the city’s historic downtown. Public input for both topics is invited at a public workshop to be held on June 15 at 7 p.m. at Snoqualmie City Hall, 38624 S.E. River Street. During the workshop, city staff will talk about the draft vision for the Snoqualmie Comprehensive Plan and discuss work currently underway for developing a Master Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, focusing on path issues.

Solid philosophy

As the third-largest tire chain in the United States, Les Schwab has consistently expanded its presence, promoting managers from within when it opens new stores. A former newspaperman, company founder and namesake Les Schwab started his company in 1952 as a onestop-shop for tire needs. He broke the mold by offering a slate of guarantees and customer services, such as free road hazard repairs, that few other companies were willing to try at the time. “He was a very humble, sincere man,” Schallhorn said of Les. “His door was always open.” That first week in North Bend in the summer of 1991 was a busy, hectic time, but Schallhorn still recalls his first customer, a woman who wanted tires and wheels for her 1960s Chevy Nova. Most new businesses hang their first dollar on the wall as a memento. That didn’t happen here, though. “There was no dollar on the wall,” Schallhorn said. “That,

Seth Truscott/Staff Photo

Marking their store’s 20th year in business, staff at the North Bend Les Schwab Tire Center are, from left, front row, Michelle Scott, Jason Willhaight, Mark Moses, Alain Ross, back row, Kevin Schallhorn, Matt Duran, Josh Beerbower, Seth Merrit, Chris Alber, Billy Wendling; not pictured, Craig Bawdon, Frank Anderson, Gianni Mabalay. we put in the till. The company is based on honesty. Les had the philosophy, ‘Steal a dollar and you’re gone.’”

Small town feel In the 1990s, the company used handwritten invoices. While the company is in the computer age now, Schwab’s emphasis was on the core business and customer loyalty, not new gadgets. “All that new fancy stuff— He always said, ‘Let’s just sell

tires,’” Schallhorn said. Over the past 20 years, the face of the building has remained the same, but staff have doubled, and hundreds of thousands of customers have been helped. In all that time, the community has kept that small-town feel. To store assistant manager Billy Wendling, the North Bend branch has its own vibe. “The area is what gives it the biggest feel,” he said. “You can’t walk in with-

out seeing someone you know or saying hello,” added Schallhorn. This anniversary also marks Schallhorn’s 30th year with the company. “It’s a proud mark,” he said. “This is my life. I’ve seen a lot of changes, taken a lot of different steps as the company has changed.” Asked about retirement, Schallhorn responds, “The day I don’t enjoy it is the day I retire.” Schallhorn loves his job

because every day is different. “There are no two days the same,” he said. Every day brings new or familiar faces, new challenges, and new satisfactions. Each new day at the tire center is a chance to ensure customers are “satisfied, happy and wanting to come back, not just for the next product, but for a lifetime.” • North Bend Les Schwab Tire Center is located at 610 E. North Bend Way, and can be reached at (425) 831-6300.


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North Bend’s Les Schwab Tire Center celebrates 20th anniversary June 26