Our People: General Manager Todd Ward

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

“I’ve had so many opportunities to learn and grow.”

Speaking with our General Manager Todd Ward, that’s a sentiment that comes up time and time again. It’s not just words, either — it’s backed up by an impressively long career history with Chapel Hill Tire, stretching all the way back to 1987.

In his first position as a General Service Technician, you could find Todd changing tires and oil with his team at the Carrboro location. But even during the four years he was cutting his teeth on the automotive repair industry, Todd was already looking to take the opportunities offered to him. That led to making light repairs on shocks, springs, and the like.

But Todd’s willingness and aptitude led him to become a Service Writer at the Carrboro location next, followed very shortly thereafter by his role as Manager of the entire location, a role he would hold all the way until 2015. This was perfect for him, as he felt a deep sense of connection to his work family at Carrboro, and loved being able to support them through the trials and tribulations of personal and professional life.

Even all of that experience couldn’t quite prepare Todd for what came next, though. With Marc Pons taking on the role as the company’s CEO, Todd was offered his largest responsibility yet: A role as the General Manager in charge of all Chapel Hill Tire locations.

“At the time, I didn’t deal with change very well.” says Todd, “And I’m a very loyal person. My Carrboro team was my family,” and being away from that location felt almost insurmountable.

“I just knew that the toughest part would be leaving my Carrboro family — but I also knew that I’d still be involved. Letting go was hard, but it’s been totally worth it.”

But with time and experience, Todd has taken to the General Manager role like a duck to water. He loves getting to spend his days visiting all nine locations, checking in with his people, making sure everything is going well for them both personally and professionally.

“In the stores, I always want to show that I care.” says Todd, and he does that every day by having conversations with every employee he meets.

“It did take me a little while to get in my groove. It was a lot to learn, and a different way of leading than what I was used to.” But what made that transition possible for Todd was sticking to Chapel Hill Tire’s core values — particularly Winning As A Team. By always supporting each other like a family, those values served to open the door to real personal and professional growth, all within the company.

With regards to those values, Todd says it best:

“I’ll say this: Those values are not just writing on the wall. They are what have helped to build the culture that we have today, by living those values and making decisions based on those values.”

For Todd, that means implementing them in a real, physical way each day: “We really focus on and talk about them daily, with our managers having a morning huddle focusing on the value of the week. They’re a huge piece of what’s gotten us to where we’re at today.”

Chapel Hill Tire wouldn’t be the place it is today without the people who keep it running, and we especially thank Todd for the work he’s done in continuing to grow and develop with everyone as a team!

What’s Up With That? How Tire Pressure Affects Your Gas Mileage

Checking tire pressure

As you’re cruising down the highway, you probably don’t often think of your car’s tires. But put just a little bit of ice and snow on the ground, or start maneuvering around tight hairpin turns, and it quickly becomes obvious how important your tires’ traction really is. And that traction, as well as almost everything about your tires’ performance, depends very strongly on proper tire pressure.

The trick of it is this: Even though it might look like your tires are fully touching the ground while you drive, they’re actually using a much smaller contact patch. And for the average tire, this area where the tire is actually touching the ground while you’re moving isn’t much bigger than the sole of your shoe.

When your tires are properly inflated, their contact patches are like a well-fitting pair of shoes.

High Heels and Clown Shoes

So imagine for a minute: What if your shoes didn’t fit well at all?

Overinflated tires are like shoes that are too small. Their contact patches (soles) are smaller than you’d expect, and that makes it awfully difficult to keep the right traction and stability while you’re moving — just think of what it would be like to wear high heels on an icy sidewalk!

Similarly, low tire pressure and underinflated tires are like wearing a pair of clown shoes. Their contact patches are bigger and floppier, and that makes them harder and less efficient to move around in.

But the perfectly inflated set of tires is like the perfect shoe, giving a smooth and comfortable ride and plenty of traction even when road conditions get dicey. And that efficiency is key to getting the best gas mileage out of your vehicle, just as wearing a perfect pair of shoes makes it easier to walk longer with less fatigue.

Right Tire Pressure, Better Gas Mileage

This isn’t just a fun analogy, though — it’s also backed up by science from the U.S. Department of Energy.

In a study from 2014, researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory tested tires across a range of inflation pressures and highway driving speeds from 40 to 80 miles per hour. And their results were pretty amazing: In addition to being much safer to drive on, properly inflated tires can have as much as 10 percent better fuel economy compared to underinflated ones.

Checking Your Tires

Now that you know how important tire pressure can be, you might be wondering: How do your tires currently match up?

Most cars list an ideal tire pressure on a sticker inside of the driver’s side door; open your door and look down, and you should be able to find it pretty easily. Failing that, you can also find optimal tire pressure listed in the owner’s manual for your car.

Or you can save yourself the hassle, and bring your car by any of our Chapel Hill Tire locations to get the pressure checked and adjusted. That’s a great time to make sure your tire tread is in good shape too, so you can rest easy knowing that your car will get you from here to there and back again without any problems.

Our Community: Volunteering to Help Animals

Aerial photo showing green trees and buildings

Anyone with a pet knows that family can come on four legs just as easily as two — and that an animal’s unconditional love and affection is one of life’s most amazing blessings.

That’s why organizations like the Wake County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) are such an important part of our communities — and why Chapel Hill Tire is so happy to be able to support their mission “To transform the lives of pets and people through protection, care, education, and adoption.”

But too often, animals outside of safe and loving homes are barely getting by. And without our help, they could be in real danger.

Emely Bernal, one of our Service Advisors at the Atlantic Avenue location, really took this mission to heart. When she and the human resources team set a goal of finding a way to help their community, the path forward became obvious:

“A lot of us love animals and have pets at home, so I felt like the SPCA was a perfect fit. On top of that, they’re a no-kill shelter, with values that really match up with what we do at Chapel Hill Tire.”

To be of best help to this invaluable organization, Emely first took a trip to their Garner location. “Going to their facility in Garner gave me such a pleasant feeling,” says Emely, mentioning that the way staff treated her and the animals was warm and kind from the moment she walked in.

That gave Emely a great idea: Knowing how many of her Chapel Hill Tire family members loved their own pets, why not organize a way for everyone to be able to donate what the SPCA needed most?

“I reached out to them and asked what items they were most in need of,” says Emely. After that, she put a plan in action for marking lists of those items and putting out donation boxes at all of our Chapel Hill Tire locations.

Keeping these boxes out for about three months gave plenty of opportunities for our Chapel Hill Tire teams — and customers — to fill them up with donations. And it was a big success: At Emely’s location on Atlantic Avenue, that box was filled up within just two weeks!

By the end of July, Emely gathered up all the donations to take over to the Wake County SPCA. They were incredibly grateful for everything we could provide, and it was a real reward for Emely to meet some of the animals she had helped through her initiative.

“I hope this is my first time of many doing something helpful like this, and I’m so grateful to everyone at Chapel Hill Tire for helping me to achieve my goals.”

If you can help adopt, donate, volunteer, or foster, please do reach out to the Wake County SPCA through their website!


Our Values: Winning As A Team, With Our Families and Communities

Chapel Hill Tire Values

When you think of what it means to be a family, what comes to mind?

Life Magazine author Jane Howard said “Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”

Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said “In family life, love is the oil that eases friction, the cement that binds closer together, and the music that brings harmony.”

And renowned actor and activist Michael J. Fox may have summed it up best: “Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.”

Taken together, those quotes build a powerful message: That family and love are essential to every aspect of life — and that very much includes the workplace, too.

In our values at Chapel Hill Tire, one of the ways we express that sense of family is through our commitment to Winning As A Team. Just what does that mean? Let our owner Marc Pons tell it best:

“It means that when we are successful, we recognize that everyone contributes equally to the customer experience. Any breakdown from shuttle driver to service advisor to technician creates a bad experience. A great experience means everyone is doing their role and going the extra mile for the customer and each other. So when we are successful, the whole team needs to be recognized.”

And most recently, we were able to live that value in a way that helped to further connect our work families, home families, and communities: Through an exciting Family Night watching a Durham Bulls game!

Marc continues: “We also want to make sure that we celebrate in ways that allow people to include their families. Our employees want to share what’s special about Chapel Hill Tire with their families. Our team brought out their spouses, children, sisters, brothers, mothers and fathers to the game. We all had a great time together, and that’s what winning as a team is all about.”

And while the game may have been a blast, it seems that the opportunity for everyone’s extended families to get together was the real draw. “Of the three and a half hours we were there, I probably caught about 10 minutes of the game,” says General Manager Todd Ward, “and I just loved getting to see everybody together and having fun.”

It’s this commitment to treating each other like family and winning as a team that keeps our crews together, and it’s what motivates us to keep including our customers and communities in that family as well. We strive to share that with everyone who comes to visit one of our Chapel Hill Tire locations, and hope that you’ll agree that when you’re here, you feel like family.

Our News: A New Location, and New Car Wash and Detailing Services

aerial photo of green trees and a curving road

In this month’s news, we have two exciting announcements to make!

First, Chapel Hill Tire is expanding its range of locations in the Triangle — and while we can’t share all the details yet, as soon as we have things nailed down you’ll be the first to know. We’ve been hard at work to secure this new location, and we’re going to be so excited to welcome more people in our communities as part of the Chapel Hill Tire family.

But we’ve saved the most exciting news for the end: At six different Chapel Hill Tire locations across Chapel Hill, Durham, and Carrboro, we are now offering a comprehensive cleaning and detailing service!

This isn’t just any old car wash though. In addition to washing, waxing, and vacuuming, we’re also offering fine-tuned detailing through paint correction, stain removal, carpet shampooing, and more.

But the best part? If you don’t have time to drop your car off and wait, we can still get it looking brand new and shiny for you.

As part of our service packages for our Drive Clean, Drive Happy car wash and detailing, we’re also offering free pick up and delivery. So while you’re working at the office or out on the town for a bit, we’ll be hard at work getting your car cleaned, detailed, and ready to go. Because there are few feelings better than stepping out of work and into your freshly cleaned and detailed car.

To see our range of car wash and detailing services and to schedule an appointment, click the image below.