Business Profile: Schlott Tire
23 years after “Rusty” McKallagat bought the business, all roads still lead to Schlott.
When Stephen “Rusty” McKallagat purchased Schlott Tire in 1989 he knew that shopping for tires wasn’t likely to be anyone’s favorite activity. Rusty realized that, while new tires were often a necessity, buying them wasn’t always a lot of fun.
What Rusty also knew was that they key to success in the tire industry was a simple one; repeat customers. Now, almost 23 years later he still relies on the same customers who come back year after year and those who consistently refer their families and friends to do the same.
“I’ve not only gained customers,” he explained. “I’ve made a lot of friends along the way.”
While the tire industry has changed considerably over the years, Schlott’s commitment to providing a hassle free, positive experience certainly has not. Instead of a showroom filled with tires, Schlott boasts a clean, friendly waiting room filled with the flags, decorations and humorous signs that Rusty is famous for.
Their slogan is “All Roads Lead to Schlott” and, frankly, what other tire store has a mural of the Yellow Brick Road leading to their doorstep? Rusty and his crew take pride in maintaining a business that both men and women don’t mind coming to and make sure that everything, right down to the restrooms, is clean and bright.
Over the years, the Schlott’s Tire sign has become rather famous. The lettering is changed frequently to tout sales, send a personal messages, cheer on a favorite team or even share an expression or quote. Sometimes, Rusty just likes to keep people guessing.
“I just enjoy putting the stupid things out there,” Rusty said, with a laugh. “They keep people smiling.”
One of his best loved signs was during last year’s summer heat wave. The sign read simply, “Remember, we do roof top snow removal.” The sign was, as usual, silly enough to get people’s attention and, at the same time, give them a good laugh during their commute.
While making people comfortable and keeping them smiling is always a priority for Rusty, the most important thing is providing them with competitive and fair pricing.
“We shop our prices all the time and we know that they are competitive and fair,” he explained. “I don’t believe in hidden fees and all of our prices are all inclusive.”
Don’t be fooled into thinking, however, that new tires are all you can go to Schlott Tire for. In addition Schlott specializes in flat repairs, rotations, low profile tire installation, computer spin balancing, axle/cv joint/drive shaft repair, brakes, electrical systems, exhaust systems, cooling systems lube/oil changes and, of course, all types of preventative maintenance.
Of course, no business is a success without the right team and that is exactly what Schlott Tire has. With Jimmy Lamarche onboard since the beginning, Schlott’s customers are accustomed to seeing the same face each and every time they come to the store. Jimmy, along with Rusty’s son, Michael, provides the type of customer service that you simply don’t see very often these days.
“My employees work with me not for me. Every effort is a team effort,” Rusty mentioned.
On that same note, Schlott Tire and it’s employees are committed to being good neighbors to the local community. Each year Tire makes the $500 “Schlott Tire Scholarship” available to a graduating Tewksbury High Senior and, as Rusty points out, “that money can really change a life.” In addition Schlott Tire donates to a number of different charities including local youth sports and prides itself in being a true neighborhood tire store.
“There are a lot of outside pressures to change that but, honestly, I don’t think we need to,” said Rusty. “You can’t change your morals.”
All in all, Rusty and his Schlott Tire team have spent the past 23 years living up to the reputation he once dreamt of. “I take the most pride in knowing we can walk down the street, look everyone on the eye and know we did our best.”