Associated Tire and Auto is much more than a tire shop. It’s like a second home for Kermit Dahl, who owns the Cambpellton shop with his son David and whose wife Betty works there part-time as well.
The Dahls and their staff offer other vehicle services besides tire sales and maintenance, including oil changes and brake inspections.
And they’re known for everything they do in and for the community.
Kermit and Betty have a popcorn maker and barbecue trailer – built by Kermit with the help of Campbell River Metal Fabricators and Grant Signs – that they bring to or donate to charity fundraisers, golf tournaments and a wide variety of community events throughout the summer months. A journal is filled with events such as the Truck Loggers Association golf tournament, National Aboriginal Day or a Cameryn’s Cause for Kids fundraiser, and the Dahls come back to many events year after year.
“It’s just about to the point where it’s a full-time job,” said Kermit. “My wife and I have been doing a lot of them for years, long before we opened the shop. It’s a lot of fun to get out with everybody from town and have that camaraderie and build that relationship and see the good that group is doing. It makes you feel good that you are supporting your community. That’s what we’re supposed to be doing.”
Kermit sees the people who come into his shop more as friends than as customers.
“Most of the people who deal here, I’ve dealt with a long time,” he said. “All my customers are friends. I hang out here; I socialize here. I guess we really love what we do because we do it no matter what. We’re here on more Sundays than we aren’t and we’ll spend hours cleaning up or putting stuff away.”
Kermit and his staff are feeling a lot of love from their customers and friends these days, as they recently won three big awards. Associated Tire and Auto was chosen Best Automotive Service for 2015 in the Campbell River Mirror’s City’s Best awards, and Kermit also won the 2015 Board of Governor’s Award at the Campbell River Chamber of Commerce Business Awards of Distinction. Associated Auto and Tire was also recently chosen 2016 Automotive Business of the Year at the Vancouver Island Business Excellence Awards.
“The people of Campbell River are definitely showing us they appreciate what we do so that really helps to drive you,” said Kermit. “It [winning an award] is definitely not the reason you do it, but you don’t know what it’s like to win one of these awards until you’ve won one. When someone awards you for something you just do because that’s the way you do it, it’s nice to know that you obviously must be doing something right.
“These awards come definitely more because of our staff than because of me. We might get awarded because we do a lot of community events, but if it wasn’t for having an amazing group of people in the shop to take care of it, you can’t do it.”
Kermit is a mechanic and he grew up around an automotive/tire shop. In Alberta, his father ran a mechanical repair shop before coming to Campbell River. Kermit came to Campbell River in 1985 and ended up working at Fountain Tire in 1990. Kermit worked at Fountain Tire for 13 years, working with David and also with his father, and then he and David purchased the Big O Tires store at 1710 Island Highway. There had been a store there since the 1950s and it became a Big O Tires store around 1974, says Kermit. The store remained Big O Tires until Kermit and David purchased it in March 2011.
“We really believe Toyo make the best tire for this market, and Big O doesn’t have access to Toyo, so when we bought it, we became Associated Tire, which is an OK Tire store,” said Kermit.
“It seems to be an industry that once you get in, you can’t get out,” he added with a laugh. “It’s like heroin. Once I left Fountain Tire, I wanted to do something different because I’d been a mechanic and been in shops all my life. I wanted to build a house. Betty and I had just built a house and we were going to live in it for a few months and then build another one. David didn’t want to do that.
“We saw this as a really good opportunity. Fortunately, we didn’t pass it up.”
Kermit’s father came out of retirement to work at Associated Tire and Auto from May 2011 until September 2011 while they looked for a technician.
“That’s when we found Jordan, who is awesome,” said Kermit.
Kermit was happy to own his own business.
“It’s a huge reduction in stress,” he said. “When you’re in a management position in a big corporation, they remember to call when you have a bad year but not when it’s good. Now I don’t have a head office that kicks you when you’re down. Now my head office is my home and my wife gives me s*** when I need it. My son and I are partners and that’s a lot of fun. We get to work together every day and his wife works here too as well.”
When Kermit and David first started Associated Tire and Auto in 2011, it was just the two of them working there. Over the years, the shop has grown, and they now have seven full-time employees and three part-time employees.
“We’re all like family,” said Kermit.
Visit associatedtireandauto.ca or look for Associated Tire and Auto on Facebook.
David Dahl installs a tire at Associated Tire and Auto in Campbellton. He and his father Kermit bought the shop in March 2011.