The owners of Virginia Tire & Auto have broken ground on their 18th location — in the midst of a global pandemic — and Julie Holmes tells Modern Tire Dealer the crisis hasn’t affected the scope or timing of this project, and she doesn’t expect it to affect plans for future expansion.
The Fairfax-based tire dealership is building a new store in Leesburg, Va. It will be Virginia Tire & Auto’s seventh location in Loudoun County.
Holmes, co-CEO of the company alongside her husband Mike, says, “We’ve been planning our expansion into Leesburg for several years. We are excited to be working with a prominent developer in the area, Peterson Companies, on this project. Construction has not been delayed or reduced in scope due to the pandemic.”
The store, which is expected to open in the summer of 2021, will feature 12 service bays and in-store comforts plus online scheduling, shuttle service and free loaner cars for service repairs of more than $200. It will be located in a new shopping development by Peterson Companies, The Shops at Russell Branch.
Holmes says Leesburg has been a targeted community on the company’s list for some time.
“We have many customers in Leesburg that travel to our other locations for service,” she told MTD. “As the Leesburg area continues to grow, we believe this is the perfect time to give our current customers a more convenient location for stress free car care while also introducing Virginia Tire & Auto to many new customers in the area.”
While the company isn’t planning to open any new stores in 2020, Holmes says, “we do not anticipate that the pandemic will affect our plans for future growth.”
Business recovering from COVID-19
Holmes says traffic at its stores “decreased significantly in March and April as customers stayed home and practiced social distancing.”
As a result, the company, “made the difficult decision to furlough some of our employees. However, we were able to bring all our employees back full-time within 60 days and have not had to lay off anyone.
“Though business has been slower than usual for this time of year, we’ve used the extra time to focus our attention on further training and developing our staff and improving our existing locations.”
Traffic has improved, and Holmes credits Virginia Tire & Auto’s “loyal customers for helping us weather this pandemic. They are the reason that we’ve been able to continue supporting our communities and keep our staff employed. In fact, we have recently begun hiring again for positions at our stores.”
The business environment and economy aren’t yet stable, and Holmes expects that uncertainty to linger through 2021. But there are good signs for what’s ahead.
“We are confident that the market for tires and car care will remain steady. People are relying more and more on their cars instead of airplanes or public transportation, making automotive repair and maintenance even more of an essential service.”
Virginia Tire & Auto was founded in 1976 by Holmes’ parents. It has grown to 17 locations. The company is tied for the No. 65 spot on the MTD 100.