Texas Border Business
By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
Having the opportunity to meet business people is a privilege, and even more so to meet a Christian businessman and philanthropist. This unique combination, which is the essence of his life, has brought Ricky Ivey of Pueblo Tires much success.
Despite his success in business, Ricky Ivey is a simple man who puts God first, loves his family, and cares for his employees, spiritually.
Almost 27 years ago, while he was working in Austin Texas for a supermarket chain, his father approached him to join the Pueblo Tires business with him. Ricky, as his friends call him, agreed and the rest became a very interesting story to share.
In 1986, when he joined Pueblo Tires, his father, Charles Ivey and his mother, Mary Joyce, had three stores that previously were managed by his brother, Carter, who had lost his life in a shooting accident in 1984. “My brother, Jeffrey, and my sister-in-law, Molly, were already working in the business and I feel that my Dad somehow knew that I would love working for the company as well.”
Ricky is the second generation in this business. “My Dad and my Mom started this company with a partner in 1972,” Ricky told Texas Border Business.
As soon as Ricky joined the company, he with his brother, Jeffrey, opened a new Pueblo Tires in Brownville, and by 1990 the company grew to 11 stores and a re-tread facility in Corpus Christi. Unfortunately in 1992, Ricky and his family closed all but 5 of the stores. “I closed them because we had lost a lot of money,” he said. At that point, he regrouped and started paying loans and established efficient management procedures.
Businesspeople have challenges of every kind, for him the challenge was to manage multiple locations, which he says, “It’s not easy, especially if you do not have clearly written procedures and practices.”
To that statement he added that if you don’t have a strong commitment to customer service, sales management team, a training program, great benefits and a sense of family in your company, then it is difficult to operate. He said, “Even though we had a lot of that it needed to be refined and enforced.
Since then, Ricky and his capable staff have implemented proper procedures in the company’s operation. Now there is follow up on management issues and enforcement as well. Aside from that, he is back with 11 Pueblo stores. There are 10 tire stores and the newest facility, Total Lube, is a quick Lubrication Facility with superior vehicle knowledge and fast maintenance service, which he and his team are replicating at each of the tire and auto service facilities.
Those who know about selling a brand in a market that is highly competitive will be in agreement with me that creating a character is possibly the most difficult task to accomplish, because the character, the message and the delivery have to hit the target audience.
He has become a leader in this industry by conveying his message through a character that he created. And for those who didn’t know, Ricky himself plays that character called the ‘Colonel’, with the signature catchphrase: ‘Shampoozie!’ Yes, the gentleman dressed in a white suit and a white cowboy hat with a white mustache; it’s him! The market is well aware now that the cowboy in white is Pueblo Tires; he has been well branded in the market place.
What he sells is something that everyone that owns a motor vehicle needs, be it tires, brake service, alignment, diagnostics, large truck service, or advice. But in order to fill that need, it is necessary to reach an audience, and in order to reach the audience you need a message, not just a message, but also the right message with the adequate delivery. What follows is a sample, the script from an actual TV commercial running on the Pueblo Tires website: “Folks, there two days that you need not worry about, that’s right, yesterday because it’s gone, tomorrow because is not here yet, but today, today you need to get to Pueblo Tires and take advantage of our value line of tires just for you, Shampoozie!
Another success of his message to sell Pueblo Tires is his slogan that has been adopted by the residents of the Rio Grande Valley and it reads: Pueblo Tires & Service, Think Tires… Think Pueblo!
Even though he says that he sells his products and services any way possible, he understands very well that the first rule to good retailing is having the merchandise and services available, not all of his competition can do that.
“We strive to purchase heavy and keep plenty of inventory ready to serve the customer.” Ricky also invests in a lot of equipment for mechanical services, including professional alignment services, which are very complicated, and he keeps them up to date. He said, “We strive to keep 2 alignment systems in each store so we can have quicker turnaround and not make people wait so long.” With 11 stores he covers a territory from Alice and Kingsville to the south including all locations in every major city.
Ricky was born and raised in a farm about 35 miles east of El Paso on the Rio Grande River where his parents raised pecan trees and cotton. He was among 10 students that graduated from a very small high school. He then attended two different universities, New Mexico State University and UT El Paso.
He is not shy to say that he was never a great student; consequently he had tutoring and counseling to catch up with the rest. Today is a different story; he is a well-read professional and mechanically inclined. Through the years he learned construction, electricity, drafting, and everything related to concrete work, as well as being an accomplished guitarist and artist. “I am very good with math but I must confess that when I took accounting in college it was hard to get good grades.” After five years of college he got tired of it, quit going to school and got a job.
Ricky gets excited about his company’s prospects. “Opportunity, there is great opportunity in this company for growth and to see associates grow and prosper and do well. I like nothing more than to see somebody succeed personally and spiritually through his or her career.”
He was inspired to stay in the Valley and grow Pueblo Tires here. “The Rio Grande Valley is beautiful, I love the Valley. The evenings here are so beautiful. The culture, the people, the food, and the Hispanic influence is beautiful, and I don’t think that I could ever live without it,” he said.
For the immediate and long-term future he said, “We are currently planning on remodeling our first store because we have outgrown our office. We have owned property for many years on the freeway in San Juan that could be a great possibility for a large store, a Super Service Facility. I would like to have another store or two in Cameron County.”
Ricky said that what fulfills him in this business is the opportunity to help others. “That’s what we do for a living.”
The biggest challenge that he has encountered in the last two years is the increasing cost of doing business. “I know a lot of people that can relate to that. This is not just a household problem but also a social problem. Increases in insurance, taxes, freight cost, fuel and utilities to name a few are totally out of hand.”
As you have noticed, Ricky is a seasoned businessman and is used to the regular business fluctuation, but as he says, “I have never seen multiple changes at this rate of speed, because of that, we have to do our job better to stay in business.”
“Honesty, respect and a deep understanding of Christian values are principles my parents instilled in me when I was growing up. Mom and Dad are also well-read; they are reasonable and very charitable people.”
“I am married to Ana Isabel and we have a daughter Ana Victoria, both are my inspiration. I am greatly influenced by my wife, in common sense and decor. She and my daughter inspire me with their talents.
He says his wife is extremely gifted in needlecraft and decorating, and excels in organizing any kind of function. “She is an incredible inspiration. When she walks into a room it’s like a light bulb going on, and I find that extremely attractive. My daughter is also very talented, being an artist, singing, and playing multiple instruments.”
He is the past president for the Texas Tire Dealer Association, and supports many organizations in the Valley; one of his favorites is Casa Amparo in Reynosa. This is a non-profit organization that takes in orphans or children that need help. “We also contribute to reading projects Valley-wide regardless of the school, and I attempt to contribute to what God directs me,” he said.
The Management team of his company becomes involved in many great civic opportunities. “I know as a whole, the company is a great contribution to South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley.”
Ricky says, “Whenever I look for the presence of the Lord, He is always there.”
Pueblo Tires has 11 locations, please visit their website www.pueblotires.com for more information.
Sale and Tire Installation
Belts and Hoses
Heating & Air Conditioning
Steering and Suspension
Flat Tire Repair
Transmission Fluid Flush
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