Our Community: Celebrating 70 years of serving the Triangle

Aerial photo showing green trees and buildings

Seventy years ago, the world was a very different place. The Hudson Hornet was the most popular car on the market, “How Much is that Doggie in the Window” was climbing the Billboard Top 100 charts, and television sets across the country were tuning in to I Love Lucy to see the birth of Little Ricky.

Just about everything has changed since then — but Chapel Hill Tire’s commitment to car care excellence has not. 

“It’s an honor to lead a business that’s been around for this long,” Says Chapel Hill Tire President Marc Pons. “We’re drinking from wells we did not dig, and that’s the biggest part of our success.” 

To celebrate 70 years of family-owned service, we’re throwing a big birthday bash!

The “Tires & Tunes: 70th Birthday Bash! A Chapel Hill Celebration at Midway” is destined to be the best party of the summer, and we’re thankful to be co-hosting it with another legendary Triangle area business, 97.9 The Hill WCHL, which is also celebrating nearly 70 years of serving the Triangle.

The party will be happening from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug 26th on and around North Graham Street, just north of the intersection with W. Franklin Street. There we’ll have live performances by two popular local artists, Jesse Fox and The Shoaldiggers, as well as a street arts & crafts market, show cars on display, and car washes offered by Chapel Hill Tire.

There will be plenty of food and drinks from local bars and restaurants as well, including Al’s Burger Shack and IP3, The Baxter, Lapin Bleu, BeerStudy and Local 506. Many local businesses on N. Graham and W. Franklin will be open for business and offer in-store activities and special sales as well, giving you plenty of options for how to celebrate with us.

We’d love it if you’d join us between bands at 4 p.m. as well, where we’ll be singing Happy Birthday to Chapel Hill Tire and 97.9 The Hill WCHL, with Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Memminger recognizing Chapel Hill Tire and WCHL past and current personalities, Marc Pons, Aaron Keck, Ron Stutts, and many others.

Our People: Celebrating the ASE Blue Seal Certification

photo of a set of wrenches beside a bumper sticker with a yellow smiley face that reads "Drive Happy" and a blue ball cap with a yellow smiley face

When the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence was founded in 1972, the United States was in the midst of an energy and oil crisis of unprecedented proportions. Where oil and gas had been plentiful in years past, now drivers and auto manufacturers alike were having to question just how well their cars were running, and how fuel efficient they could be. 

Those circumstances made the ASE’s mission to improve the quality of vehicle repair and service by testing and certifying automotive professionals more important than ever before. And now, more than 50 years on and as fuel and vehicle prices continue to rise, their mission is more important than ever — because a well-maintained car is more fuel efficient, and lasts a lot longer. And the ASE’s certifications can show the difference between a good auto repair shop and a great one.

That’s why we’re so excited to be celebrating the hard-working people at our Woodcroft and Crabtree Valley stores, whose efforts have gained the award of the ASE’s coveted Blue Seal Certification — which is only awarded to stores where at least 75% of technicians performing diagnosis and repairs are ASE Certified, and each area of service offered in the shop is covered by at least one ASE Certified technician.

WOODCROFT

In the Woodcroft store, Manager Troy Hamburg holds the highly esteemed Master, L1, Service Consultant, and Parts Specialist certifications, highlighting his expertise in many areas of automotive service. Randy Rigsbee has achieved the prestigious Master plus L1 certification, showcasing his exceptional skills and knowledge. Stevie Ray has been awarded seven ASE certifications, representing their extensive training and proficiency. And Cameron House is a valued member of our team with a General Service ASE certification, further contributing to the team’s commitment to service excellence.

CRABTREE

In the Crabtree store, five of our team members are fully ASE certified. Manager Dru Gualdarama holds the G1 Maintenance and Light Repair, Service Consultant and P2 Parts certifications, and helps direct the entire team’s training efforts. Jack Driver has been recognized for 7 total ASE certifications, showcasing his dedication to continuing education and expertise in all things mechanical. Richard Vega-Gonzalez has achieved the G1 Maintenance and Light Repair certifications, Dew Burt the P2 Parts certification, and Cassidy McKay the C1 Service certification.

We really couldn’t be more proud of the hard work, time, and dedication to their craft that all of our team members have put into making an ASE Blue Seal certification a reality. And with the continuing help of Mike Storey, our new Director of Training for all Chapel Hill Tire locations, we’re looking forward to seeing even more Blue Seals across all of our stores!

What’s Up With That? The Impact of AI on Car Care

From the works of early computer scientists such as Ada Lovelace, artificial intelligence has taken on a life of its own, from becoming a prominent feature of 1950s science fiction to earning a central role in our new economies of “big data”. 

Scientists and media pundits are predicting that AI is the next big thing, the next quantum leap in technology that will change our everyday lives — some for the better, and perhaps some for the worst.

We’ve been keeping our finger on the pulse of this emerging technology for years now to prepare ourselves for AI’s inevitable impact on car care, and we’d like to share a few things with you that we can see changing in the near future.

AI Might Make Your Car Safer…

Some of the most exciting developments in automotive AI have to do with safety and convenience. A new generation of cars is already being equipped with AI-powered tools, and in the near future we can expect to see it become a regular part of many or all new vehicles on the road.

Active safety features can alert drivers to potential dangers before they become a problem, and even automatically take action to prevent accidents. Preventative braking is a good example of this, powered by AI identification through an array of cameras placed around the car.

There’s also the potential for AI to automatically detect when your tires are getting low — and even inflate them for you! This will keep your tires safer in all weather conditions, as well as contribute to better gas mileage and handling.

Inside of the car, AI will be able to keep an eye on the driver. If you’re too distracted, or getting drowsy on a long trip, AI-powered features will be able to alert you and give you the opportunity to drive safer.

And last but certainly not least, AI will allow for powerful predictive maintenance systems. We’re already well on the way to this with the integration of computerized sensors into every part of the vehicle. But soon, this technology will even notify you of problems before they arise, giving you more time to take your car into a shop for service before anything gets out of control.

… But There Are Drawbacks, Too

Until all of those AI-powered systems are completely refined, though, there’s a good chance that they’ll lead to more wear and tear on your vehicle.

Lane assist features, designed to keep your car in the center of your driving lane, might not yet be able to account for potholes and other unexpected road hazards. When that’s the case, they can maneuver your car unsuccessfully, adding wear and tear to your tires.

The same can be true for collision detection features. While they’ll be a great thing nine times out of ten, any sort of false positives could lead to emergency braking situations where none are necessary, adding lots of wear to your brake pads and calipers.

And You’ll Always Need A Good Mechanic

Unless AI gets to the point where it can perfectly predict your car’s maintenance needs, there’s always going to be a place for a good mechanic. Diagnosing exactly what a car needs is as much of an art as it is a science, and an experienced mechanic will know what to look for even when it’s not obvious.

That’s why we’re continually striving for excellence in all of our service departments, including ASE certification to keep up to date with all of the changes in car care. So even in a future where your entire car is equipped with AI-powered sensors and systems, we’ll be here for you to make sure that it stays in the best — and safest — possible condition.

Our Values: Being Grateful and Helpful

Chapel Hill Tire Values

“Everyone who remembers his own education remembers teachers, not methods and techniques. The teacher is the heart of the educational system.”

— Sidney Hook, American philosopher

Teachers give so much of themselves to make sure that our kids, their students, get the best possible education. Whether it’s evenings spent grading papers, afternoons coaching or administrating after-school clubs, or the simple act of showing up every day to connect with kids and make a difference in their lives, teachers are always giving.

But the sad fact of the matter is, we don’t always do a great job as a society of giving back to the teachers that make the success of future generations possible. It’s a hard job even on the best days, and one that could use a whole lot more support from our local communities.

“Our teachers do so much, and it can sometimes be a thankless job. So we started thinking: Wouldn’t it be great to find a real way to give back to them, in whatever way we can? Because they sure could be thanked more often, and in more ways.” 

That’s what started Chapel Hill Tire owner Marc Pons thinking about how we can best give back to these essential pillars of our communities. Guided by our core Chapel Hill Tire values of Being Grateful and Helpful, this led to a new initiative: Distributing over 5,000 gift cards for complimentary oil changes to teachers in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Raleigh, Durham, Apex, and Cary schools.

Marc went on to say: “Chapel Hill Tire deeply values the incredible work performed by teachers each day, shaping the lives of our community’s youth. We are committed to supporting and recognizing their dedication. Providing them with a well-deserved opportunity to have their vehicles serviced as they head into summer break is our way of showing appreciation.”

Now in its fifth year, this gift certificate program has been incredibly well-received by both teachers and the local community — and we’re so thankful for our ability to be grateful and helpful in this way. 

As we continue to look for more ways to give back to our communities, we pledge to always keep our teachers in mind and help them out in whatever ways we are uniquely able to. That’s what being grateful and helpful is all about, and it’s a commitment that we hold dear in everything that we do.

Our News: Mobile Car Wash and Detailing Discounts, and a New Location in Durham

Spring is here, and you know what that means: Warmer weather, flowers in bloom, barbecues in the backyard, and… Pollen. Specifically, that filmy golden layer of pollen that shows up on your car day after day, threatening to cloud your windshield and damage your paint job.

And sure, you could break out the hose and a bucket of soapy water in your driveway. But with our new Mobile Car Wash and Detailing service, you can free up your time without having to go out of your way to get your car looking shiny and new. It’s just another way that we’re looking to serve our communities and customers better, by bringing the car wash to you.

Download the New App and Save

We’ve come a long way since the first automated car washes were invented in 1940s Hollywood — so far in fact, that you can now book a car wash from the comfort of your couch, and have our experienced detailing technicians come right to you.

That’s all made possible by our new Chapel Hill Tire app, which you can download here.

“But what’s the catch?”, you might be thinking. That’s just the thing: There isn’t one. 

By booking through our app, you’ll get the same great wash and detail services that Chapel Hill Tire has on offer in-store, at no extra cost. And for a limited time, we’re actually making the deal even better, with a $20 discount off your first in-app purchase using code CARWASH323.

We offer the same selection of car wash and detailing packages as you’ll find in stores, covering everything from a basic wash and shine to an in-depth detailing where we’ll smooth out light scratches and enhance the gloss on your paint.

One of our customers’ favorite ways to use this new service has been while they’re at work. Set up an appointment the day before, drive your car into work, and while you’re busy at your desk our technicians will come by and spruce it up for you. By the time five o’ clock rolls around, you’ll be able to walk into the parking lot and head home in your freshly cleaned and detailed car.

Our new mobile car wash service also makes for a great gift. You can buy any of our four available packages as a gift certificate, and give someone in your life the gift of a squeaky-clean car for birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays.

To learn more about this new service, check out our complete guide to mobile car wash and detailing services at Chapel Hill Tire. And if you’re ready to schedule your first appointment and get your $20 discount, don’t forget to download the app today!

But There’s More: New Location Opening in Durham

We’re also proud to announce the opening of our newest store! Located in the former Durham Tire location on Hillsborough Road, this brings our total number of Triangle area shops to 11. Now you can get the service you’ve come to know and love in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Cary, and Apex. 

Or if you’re short on time, we can take care of things with our free pickup and delivery, or our mobile car wash and detailing services. That’s just part of our commitment to innovating new ways of getting you and your car the care and service you need.

Our Community: Robert Ballard, Chapel Hill High School Automotive Teacher

Aerial photo showing green trees and buildings

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

William Arthur Ward

Think back on your time in school, and the teachers you had. You may not even remember quite  a few of them. But it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll remember a great teacher, the one that inspired you to do more than your best — not just to learn, but to become more, and transform into a better person for it.

We’re blessed to have many teachers like that in the Chapel Hill area, inspiring our kids to greatness and preparing them for bright, productive futures. And today, we’d like to tell you a little more about one of those teachers in particular: Robert Ballard, Chapel Hill High School’s Automotive Instructor.

Robert has lived in the Chapel Hill area his entire life and has been teaching our kids for the better part of 17 years, but it was only recently that he moved to teaching high school classes. 

Robert Ballard

“I’ve really enjoyed making the change from teaching college classes to high school. At the high school age, a lot of kids are making those big life decisions — where to go to college, or whether they should really be going to college in the first place. I find it really rewarding to help the kids at that crucial time in their lives.” says Robert, adding that “The perception is starting to change about what options are available to students coming out of high school. We’re really trying to educate kids on all their options, from college to tech school to apprenticeship programs and more.”

For Robert, those options go hand-in-hand with working with local businesses. “Chapel Hill Tire has been a big supporter of the automotive program [at Chapel Hill High School] for years,” says Robert. “They’ve come out and talked to our students quite a few times, helped me certify my program, supported the racing team, and even hired a lot of our students right out of high school. They’re a great business partner, and I love working with them.”

And even though the state-level curriculum might be a bit behind the times, Robert is always looking towards the future of the automotive industry while he’s preparing his students for life after graduation. “The automotive industry has changed a lot, and it always keeps changing. These days it’s more about computers and electronics, and it’s less mechanical — and with that comes different ways of teaching, to help these kids be prepared to do well in automotive in the future.”

We’re honored to be able to partner with Robert and Chapel Hill High School to keep these programs running smoothly, and look forward to many more years to come. Robert is a runner up for Teacher of the Year this year, and we wish him the best of luck as he continues to inspire and educate our brightest young minds!

Our People: Mike Storey, Director of Training

a wrench set and a hat beside a sticker with a smiley face and the words drive happy

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.”

Henry Ford

If variety is the spice of life, then learning must be the meat and potatoes. Whether you’re 14 or 40, continuing to grow and learn is what gives life substance, keeps your mind and body sharp, and gives you something to look forward to every single day.

And these days, becoming a lifelong learner isn’t just a way to invigorate your daily routine. It’s also a necessity in any career field — but especially one as fast-moving and ever-changing as the automotive industry.

Mike Storey

Mike Storey, our new Director of Training for all of Chapel Hill Tire’s locations, knows a lot about how the industry is changing. And with a whopping 21 different ASE certifications to his name, he also knows a lot about what it takes to be a lifelong learner, and how to pass that on to a whole new generation of technicians.

“I went into a tech school program right out of high school, and I’ve basically been working in automotive for my entire adult life,” says Mike. “It’s always interesting, because there’s always a new challenge, and so many opportunities for improvement. That’s a big part of what I’m hoping to bring to Chapel Hill Tire as their Director of Training.”

More than anything, Mike wants to bring a big understanding of the “why” behind everything to Chapel Hill Tire’s technicians. “That’s really the foundation of the whole training program. You know, today’s car is basically a rolling computer network, with 120 or more modules — and you have to know the ‘why’ behind all of that to be a really great technician.”

And how do you really incorporate that Striving for Excellence into work? For Mike, that means looking at including ASE certifications as part of the promotion plans at Chapel Hill Tire. For motivated and curious team members, there will always be something new to work on, and Mike wants to give them a variety of ways to advance their careers in the automotive industry.

“Chapel Hill Tire has already put a lot of effort into Striving for Excellence, and I want to continue to make that available to more people. I’d really like to see some of our technicians become ASE Master certified. That will take a lot of custom training and fine-tuning — and a lot of time — but I know it’s worth doing.”

For those team members who want to pursue an ASE Master’s certification, it will take a lot of studying! Each Master’s certification covers eight different areas, with tests for each part. We’re lucky to have someone as experienced as Mike to help guide our techs through each phase of the testing process.

We’re so happy to have Mike as a new member of the Chapel Hill Tire family, and he feels the same way: “I’m happy that Chapel Hill Tire has picked me for this job, and I’m looking forward to continuing to be a part of watching this company and its people grow.”

Our Values: Striving for Automotive Service Excellence

Chapel Hill Tire Values

When you go to get your car worked on, how do you know that the business you choose is up to par? And how do you know that the fine folks working on your vehicle really know their trade inside and out, and are capable of getting you back on the road without a hitch?

An auto shop’s reputation goes a long way toward reassuring you on these matters, but it’s only part of the story. To know that you’re getting the best service possible for your car or truck, you’ll need to look towards the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, or ASE.

Established in 1972, the ASE is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of vehicle repair and service. They’re the gold standard for automotive service certifications, and their chairman Homer Hogg has this to say about the purpose of the ASE:

“[Our] focus on the advancement of service professionals through testing and certification benefits employers, consumers, and most importantly, service professionals themselves.”

And as part of our commitment to Striving for Excellence in everything we do at Chapel Hill Tire, our service technicians have been getting ASE certified at a downright impressive rate. In 2022 alone, we added a total of 51 new ASE certifications — increasing our total to 141 certifications company-wide, with many more to come in 2023.

That means when you take your car in to one of our 10 Chapel Hill Tire locations, you know you’re taking it to the absolute best service technicians around. But even after earning their ASE certifications, our technicians want to go farther, always learning from the latest techniques and technologies to increase their skill levels.

Mike Storey, our Director of Training that you’ll also meet in this month’s newsletter, is a huge part of what makes our training programs at Chapel Hill Tire so special. As part of his plans for our service technicians’ continued training, he’s building in ASE certification into promotion plans that every team member can strive towards. And he’s perfectly situated to do so, as he is an ASE-certified Master technician with a whopping 21 individual certifications, on everything from diesel engines to advanced performance and hybrid vehicles.

All in all, we make a point of Striving for Excellence in everything we do here at Chapel Hill Tire, and we’re looking forward to seeing Mike pass on his knowledge and expertise to our many ambitious team members. That way whenever you visit one of our 10 locations, you’ll know through and through that you’re getting the best possible service for your car, and the best customer service experience that we can provide, every time!

Our People: Ben Moore, Service Advisor

photo of a set of wrenches beside a bumper sticker with a yellow smiley face that reads "Drive Happy" and a blue ball cap with a yellow smiley face

Service advisor at our Durham location

“As a service advisor, you know, we take phone calls. We ask what people need to bring their cars in for, maybe ask about previous work that’s been done on the car,” says Ben Moore, one of our long-time team members at our Durham location. “But what’s really important is that we always make time to have more than just a business transaction with everyone that comes in. We want to build real relationships with people, and I feel like Chapel Hill Tire’s values really make that possible for me.”

Ben grew up in the Durham area, and worked at a few other shops before making the switch to Chapel Hill Tire. “I’ve been working here for nearly 10 years now, and I can tell you that I have been truly blessed to find this company. I’m working with a lot of guys that I grew up with, so I’m never dreading Mondays. It’s fun coming in to work here, and I feel like I’m just spending the day with my family.”

In his decade of work as a service advisor, Ben has come to embody all of Chapel Hill Tire’s values — but none more than the value of Striving for Excellence. With the support of his managers, he’s constantly setting new goals for himself in the workplace, and pushing himself to be the best team member he can possibly be.

That enthusiasm for striving for excellence has even carried over into Ben’s personal life, especially in his role as a coach for a little league traveling baseball team. “I’ve started taking the same values that we have here at Chapel Hill Tire, and incorporating them into my kids’ baseball team ethic. It’s amazing how well the kids respond to this, you know? They pick up right away on how following a few values makes everybody’s life better, makes us into a better team.”

Ben goes on to say that “The one thing that really changes when you start to live by these values, at home and at work, is that a makes a real culture of excellence. Then when you bring somebody new into your team, your family, your life, they get a feel for how things work right off the bat. That changes everything, especially when you compare it to people who don’t seem to have a set of values to live by.”

And after 10 years of successful work as a service advisor, Ben is looking towards a long and fruitful future with Chapel Hill Tire. “I’m trying to become a manager soon!” He says with a laugh and real enthusiasm, “Only problem is, I really love what I do as a service advisor. But I’m going to take some of the leadership classes that Marc is offering, and use them to better myself both at work and at home.”

Like so many members of the Chapel Hill Tire family, Ben has gone the extra mile to embody our values. And true to style, he really sums it up best: “There’s nothing better than having a great culture and a great group of people that you know have your back.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, Ben, and we wish you the best of luck with continuing to strive for excellence in your life at home and at work.

Our Community: 12 Days of Kindness

Aerial photo showing green trees and buildings

“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”

— Booker T. Washington, American educator and Presidential advisor

When we think of community, the first thing that comes to mind is giving back. Whether that’s as simple as sharing a friendly smile when you walk through the doors of one of our Chapel Hill Tire locations, volunteering to help local animals in need, or giving our support to one of our many local organizations, we’re always looking for ways to repay the kindness, generosity, and kinship that our communities have given to us.

This December, we continued a long-standing tradition of giving back: Our 12 Days of Kindness.

Leading up to the Christmas season, we took nominations from our communities for 12 people to be awarded $1,000 in free car care. It was tough to narrow down the nominations to just a dozen — but in the end, we’re so thankful and grateful for the people we were able to reach out to with an act of kindness for the holiday season.

Those include people like:

John Rugabo of the Refugee Support Center in Carrboro, one of our long-standing community partners. His work has been essential in helping those in need in our communities, by distributing clothing, food, and other essential items to the people who need them most.

Judy Taft, an occupational therapist with boundless energy for helping the less fortunate by delivering food, providing assistance with transportation, and serving up meals at the Interfaith Council Community Kitchen.

Nikkima Santos, a community leader and liaison between her public housing community and the local police, who also somehow finds the time to organize neighborhood cleanup events and help deliver food and clothing to neighbors in need.

For every person that we’ve selected, we’ve also made videos highlighting who nominated them for the act of kindness, and a little bit more about what makes them such a special member of our community.

Each of the 12 people we’ve selected for our 12 Days of Kindness exemplifies what it means to really treat your neighbors like a family, and we’re so grateful to be able to give them a helping hand. The success of this project is a testament to the power of small acts of kindness to make a big difference.

If you’d like to know even more about the event and each of the people chosen for our 12 days, you can check them out on our 12 Days of Kindness website or Facebook page.