If you need new tires or a brake job after heading out West, roll into Les Schwab Tire Centers. The company offers tires by name-brand and private-label manufacturers, custom wheels, and batteries at some 420 stores in Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. It also provides alignment, brake, and shock work. Les Schwab Tire Centers prides itself on customer service, and it doesn't hurt that the chain's namesake wrote the bible of tire retailing: Pride in Performance: Keep It Going. The company's roots reach back to 1952, when founder Les Schwab started his business with a single tire shop. Today the firm is owned by Schwab's family.
Amid the economic downturn in the US and slowed consumer spending, Les Schwab Tire Centers has found that customers are increasingly opting for more affordable private-label tires. The company carries such major brands as Goodyear and Michelin but said most of its tire sales come from private-label manufacturers. These low-cost tires are primarily made in China, Mexico, and other international markets.
Along with reduced spending from its passenger vehicle customers, Les Schwab has seen a decline in demand from commercial clients. In an effort to curb costs, the firm shuttered its tire retreading facility in Redding, California, in late 2009 and shifted the work to Prineville, Oregon. Les Schwab also reduced its workforce that year and scaled back its aggressive growth strategy.
Under fire for gender discrimination in years past, Les Schwab in early 2010 agreed to pay a $2 million settlement regarding claims that it denied sales and service jobs to qualified female applicants. The claims, from as far back as 2004, involved about 200 women in California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. The company did not admit guilt to the claim, but allegations that it failed to promote women to management positions and to provide them with job training were dismissed. Les Schwab said it will continue to provide anti-discrimination training for its workers and make an effort to hire women in proportion with the applicant pool. – less