Apex Welcomes Chapel Hill Tire

aerial photo of green trees and a curving road

Chamber of Commerce brings community leaders together for ribbon cutting ceremony

Chapel Hill, NC Though their Apex location opened in January of 2021, Chapel Hill Tire had to wait for the pandemic to ease before they could celebrate the event. On June 2nd, as business began to return to normal, the company teamed with the Apex Chamber of Commerce to hold an official ribbon cutting.

1101 Old Raleigh Rd, next to Food Lion

“It was great to get together with fellow Chamber members and community leaders,” said Marc Pons, who serves as president of Chapel Hill Tire. “We have been serving people in the Triangle since 1953, most of that time in Chapel Hill, of course. This is our third location in Wake County. We set up shop at Atlantic Avenue in Raleigh in 2018, and in Crabtree Valley Mall in 2019. People in this area have really responded well to our super-convenient approach to high quality, professional car care. If you like, our free pick up and delivery service will pick up your car at your home or office, and return it to you when the work is complete. You can also drop your car off at our shop, and use our free shuttle to go where you need to go. If you’d rather wait in our lobby, we offer free wifi, drinks, and snacks to make your stay as pleasant as possible.”

In addition to the ribbon cutting, Triangle-area non-profit Wheels4Hope held a car blessing event. “Sometimes,” said Pons, “for a family or an individual who is working to get through a difficult transition, a safe, reliable car can make all the difference. Wheels4Hope is dedicated to providing those vehicles to people who need them. Area residents donate their old cars. We donate the labor required to get them into good running condition, and other corporate sponsors, individual donors, and local churches provide the funds required to purchase the parts. It’s a real neighbor helping neighbor effort, and for us, it’s a great way to use our talents to make our community just a little bit better.”

Formerly home to Auto Remedy, Chapel Hill Tire’s Apex shop is located at 1101 Old Raleigh Rd. You can make your appointment online at chapelhilltire.com or just call the store at (919) 387-7270. “If you’ve never brought your car to us before, please go to promotions.chapelhilltire.com to take advantage of our $20 discount for first time customers,” said Pons. It’s good for any service except state inspections – and yes, if you’re a long time Auto Remedy customer, you still qualify as a first time customer of Chapel Hill Tire.

Chapel Hill Tire Reopens Lobbies

chapel hill tire store in raleigh

New services offer even greater convenience for customers

As an essential business, Chapel Hill Tire was able to keep its doors open at all nine locations throughout the pandemic shutdown. However, safety considerations and new customer needs required significant changes to our business operations. Now, as the world reopens, some of those changes will allow us to add a whole new level of convenience to our comprehensive car care services.

“Free pick up and delivery service is easily the best innovation to come out of this past year,” said Marc Pons, who serves as president of Chapel Hill Tire. “It was born of necessity. We couldn’t have customers waiting in our lobbies. We couldn’t run our free shuttle service. People still needed to get their oil changes, state inspections, scheduled maintenance, new tires, and etc. So, we offered to pick up their cars and bring them back when the work was completed. We even implemented a text-to-pay system to keep everything totally contact-free. People loved it so much we had to expand our capacity. Now, it’s just part of how we do business, and we expect it to become even more popular as we move forward.”

We also took advantage of the waiting-room shutdown by renovating five of our lobbies. “We want our waiting areas to be an expression of our brand, a part of the Drive Happy experience,” said Pons. “We want you to enjoy a clean and comfortable environment. And, since everyone is online all the time these days, we offer free wifi. Not being able to welcome people to our lobbies this past year, we took the opportunity to refresh them and not just make them a little more pleasant, but make them more an experience of our brand and our story. When you’re here, we want you to feel like you’re part of Chapel Hill Tire, because our customers are the most important part of our business.”

Our lobbies are now open at  all nine of our Triangle-area locations. “We’re also restarting our shuttle service and, of course, we will continue to offer free pick up and delivery,” said Pons. “No matter which option you choose, you can schedule your appointment online at chapelhilltire.com or just call us at 919-268-4140. With locations in Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh, and Apex, we’re sure to have a store near you.”

Our Culture: Helping Each Other Win

Experienced technicians help their younger colleagues achieve professional certification

Strive for excellence, win as a team, and treat each other like family: three of our core values are the inspiration behind our mentorship program. To be recognized as a professional automotive technician, a mechanic must achieve certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Our program pairs an experienced, ASE certified pro with each younger technician who is preparing to pass their exams.

“As guys who know the business, know what we’re doing and have years of experience, we’re trying to give back to the guys who are just starting out,” explained Johnny Feathers, the ASE Master Technician who leads our mentorship program.

As program leader, Johnny indirectly mentors several young technicians, and teaches classes to help bolster exam preparation. He also serves as mentor to Andres Lomelli. In this role, he spends half each working day repairing and maintaining vehicles on his own, and the other half overseeing and assisting Andres.

Operating continuously, our mentorship program provides flexibility for everyone to learn and grow at their own pace. Helping a teammate become better makes us all better at what we do. It’s part of how we strive for excellence, part of how we win as a team, and based on the idea that we treat each other like family — and family is always there for you.

“We help each other out and boost each other up,” said Johnny. “It’s incredibly rewarding to see guys passing their exams and moving on to help someone else.”

And for Andre, becoming a mentor will be part of his reward for achieving ASE certification. “Learning from others is always the best,” he said. “Once I’m ready, I would enjoy nothing more than to become a mentor myself and be able to share the knowledge and information with others. It’s great working together, and it plays a big part in enjoying the team.”

What’s Up With That? Hybrid Technology

What a classic childhood toy can teach you about eco-friendliness and fuel economy

Since its introduction in 1997, the Toyota Prius has forever changed the automotive market. By adding a secondary battery that charges when you brake, this first hybrid car proved that being responsible to the environment didn’t have to mean sacrificing your vehicle’s driving range.

Now, more than two decades on from the debut of the first hybrids, new technologies have given these cars and trucks even more power and range. Some commercial fleets — and enthusiasts — are even converting old fashioned gasoline powered vehicles to hybrids, as well.

But just how does a hybrid car work, anyway?

If you were born any time in the past 70 years, you’ve probably played with one of those pull-back toy cars. Their coiled spring “engines” were patented back in 1952, and the concept is still going strong today.

It’s a simple idea: you press down on the toy car’s hood, drag it backwards, let it go, and it zooms away. Though it doesn’t zoom very far, pulling it back and watching it go forward can keep a child  entertained for hours.

Stored energy is the concept behind this simple toy. When you pull it back, a spring inside the body is wound up tight. Let it go, and the energy stored in the spring is released, propelling the car forward. Hybrid technology works in a similar way, albeit with more steps and fancier gadgets.

No, there’s not a coiled spring that tightens every time you drive in reverse. There is, however, an electric generator that captures energy from your car’s rotating wheels as you brake, when you’re going downhill, or other times when the car is moving but neither the gasoline engine nor the electric motors are providing power. The captured energy is passed through a converter, and stored in the traction battery pack, a separate battery system from the one that’s used to start your car.

The energy is released when you move your car from a standing start or when you’re accelerating on the move. This electronic assist reduces the amount of power required from your gasoline engine, cutting down the amount of gasoline you need. This not only saves you money, it also cuts your car’s emissions. Your wallet thanks you. Your planet thanks you.

Types of Hybrid Vehicles

There are three main types of hybrid systems, full, mild, and plug-in. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Let’s take a closer look at what makes them tick or, uh, hum, or whisper?

Full hybrid vehicles, like the Toyota Prius, can run on either their gas engine or their battery pack. Their batteries are recharged by the engine as well as the brakes. They offer a balanced combination of power and driving range.

Mild hybrid vehicles, like the Honda Accord Hybrid, always run their battery and engine power together. This constant use of the battery to assist the gasoline engine improves your fuel economy and driving range slightly, but not as much as a full hybrid.

Plug-in hybrid vehicles, like the Kia Optima, have all the capabilities of a full hybrid. Their advantage is that they have larger battery packs. This gives them the longest range of all the hybrid types. On the downside, you have to stop at a charging station to get their best performance. This makes them excellent for commuting to and from your home charging station, not as good on long road trips.

What It Means for Your Car

In short: Mild hybrids are often the most affordable, while full hybrids or plug-in hybrids offer greater driving range and performance.

No matter what style of hybrid you choose, though, it will have better gas mileage and less emissions than a standard engine — putting more money in your pocket while protecting the environment, too.

Like all batteries, the traction battery in your hybrid will get to a point where it can no longer hold a charge. Then, it will have to be replaced. The good news is that you don’t have to replace the whole car. If you’re still happy with all the other parts, you can just replace the battery. When that time comes, we hope you’ll give us a call. We are certified hybrid specialists. One of our service advisors will be able to set you up with a new battery that’s just right for your car — and at a significant savings over what most dealers charge.

Our Community: Wheels4Hope

Aerial photo showing green trees and buildings

Faith-based non-profit works to put people on the road to a better life

Wake up. Get in your car. Drive to work. Pick the kids up from school and take them to practice, or maybe a doctor appointment. Stop by the grocery store on the way home.

We’re all so familiar with these humdrum daily chores that we don’t even spend much time thinking about them. But imagine how hard it would be to accomplish just these simple tasks, if you didn’t have a car. Many families in North Carolina face that problem every day. Wheels4Hope was founded to help them solve it.

“Many people take for granted what it’s like to have a car,” said Lisa Brusca, Executive Director of Wheels4Hope. “Transportation has a huge impact on your life. It is often just as important as having reliable housing or a stable job.”

Driving individuals to success is the powerful mission that guides Wheels4Hope. It was founded at West Raleigh Presbyterian Church in 2000, when members of the congregation realized just how important reliable transportation can be to a struggling family. Public transportation options can be scarce. People who are rebuilding their lives often have low credit scores, and can only purchase a vehicle from less than scrupulous dealers who charge inflated prices and high interest rates.

After a bit of brainstorming, Wheels4Hope was created to put a novel solution to work. They would seek donations of old, low-value vehicles from families in other congregations and the community at large. They would partner with local garages to perform the repairs required to ensure these vehicles provide safe, reliable transportation. They would ask area non-profit agencies to refer clients whose next steps toward a better life required a reliable vehicle. And they would sell those vehicles — typically valued in the $2,000 to $5,000 range — to individuals referred by those agencies for $500. The sale price covers North Carolina title and licensing fees. Recipients are responsible for securing their insurance.

Today, Wheels4Hope works with over 100 partners throughout North Carolina. Partner agencies refer individuals who are working a steady job and ready for car ownership. People throughout the Triangle and Triad donate their used vehicles. Others provide cash donations to pay for any parts the donated vehicle might require. Partner garages donate their time to make the necessary repairs. Then, Wheels4Hope delivers a vehicle — with a warranty — to a referred individual.

“We are proud to say that all nine Chapel Hill Tire locations serve as partner garages to Wheels4Hope,” said Marc Pons, president of Chapel Hill Tire. “Most recently, we hosted a car blessing at our newly opened Apex location, which gave us an opportunity to bring our community together and champion an individual who is working to build a better life.”

“Car blessings are really special,” said Brusca. “We bring together the car donor, the partner agency we’ve worked with, the individual receiving the car and their families. We celebrate the recipients accomplishments, bless the vehicle, and send them out on the road to success. It’s amazing to see the community come together.”

At Chapel Hill Tire, we feel incredibly grateful to be part of a community that fosters and supports Wheels4Hope, and reaches out in a caring way to people who are working so hard to have some of the little things that we all sometimes take for granted. We encourage you to learn more about Wheels4Hope and to join us in supporting their important work. To find out more about them, please visit their website. We look forward to seeing you at our next car blessing!

Our People: Curt Romanow

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

Committed to bringing people together, at work, home, and abroad

If you ever talk with Curt Romanow at our Fordham Boulevard shop, you’ll have a world of options in how you carry on the conversation. Curt speaks five languages. He’s fluent in English and Spanish, and he describes his Dutch, Greek, and French as “passable.” But no matter what language he’s conversing in, he finds that “tonality is key” to getting his message across, especially over the phone.

When you call to talk about your car care needs, you’ll also find that Curt is fluent in all things automotive. Prior to joining us as a service advisor, he was a Master Mechanic for Mercedes and Ford Diesel vehicles. This professional experience taught him pretty much everything that goes on under a vehicle’s hood.

His understanding of the mechanic’s job, though, is only half of what makes him an extraordinary service advisor. The other is his deep and abiding interest in clear and meaningful conversation with everyone he meets.

This concern for language and conversation comes from another of his interests: Curt is a world traveller. And before he visits another country, he always makes sure to learn enough of the language to get around on his own. “It’s a person’s home I’m going to, and I want to respect that,” he said.

Whether he’s asking for directions in a foreign city or guiding someone through their car care needs in his hometown, Curt believes that every conversation should end on a positive note. “If someone asks for help, you help ‘em,” he said. “No one wins unless everyone wins.”

Here at Chapel Hill Tire, that simple statement sums up three of our core values: win as a team, be grateful and helpful, and say yes to customers and each other.

Listening to the way that Curt talks about our Fordham Boulevard team, it’s obvious that he’s not the only one who values genuine communication. “We really are like a family here,” he said. “It doesn’t mean we don’t disagree, but at the end of the day everyone takes care of each other.”

And just a few weeks ago, Curt’s family got a little bit bigger — though this time, not with a new hire at Fordham Boulevard. He’s now a proud father, and the entire Chapel Hill Tire family wishes him the best of luck as he starts this new phase in his life.

Thanks for doing what you do, Curt, and thank you for being part of the Chapel Hill Tire team. Your extensive professional experience, desire to provide exceptional care, and genuine concern for others comes through in every conversation.

Our Community: Helping Animals by Helping People

Aerial photo showing green trees and buildings

Transforming lives at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Wake County

“Our mission is ultimately about saving animal lives, but our work goes so much further than that,” said Kim Janzen, CEO of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SCPA) of Wake County. “One thing we know for sure is that the only way we can help pets is by helping people.” 

two people holding dogs and smiling

Motivated by a vision to create a humane community for people and pets, SPCA of Wake County works to transform the lives of people and pets through protection, care, education, and adoption. While they offer animal care through several services, SPCA also serves the people who love those animals through pet loss support groups, education programs, pet food delivery services, and more.

Finding homes for found animals

Most of SPCA’s pets come from animal shelters. Often underfunded and under-resourced, these facilities are usually only able to keep an animal for a short time. Then, they are at risk for euthanization. Dedicated to a community-centered approach to finding good homes for these pets, SPCA partners with municipal shelters across the state. Through these programs, they are able to save nearly 4,200 animals every year.

Keeping friends together

The organization also works with social service organizations around the Triangle to better the lives of pets and their people. Partnering with Meals on Wheels and the Food Bank, they created Animeals, a food delivery program that brings pet food and other products to home-bound seniors, enabling them to keep their four-footed companions by their sides. 

SPCA works hard to match people with pets that best fit their personality and lifestyle by assessing each pet’s individual needs and providing any necessary behavioral support. Even after pet adoption, SPCA offers continued support by providing information and resources to help adopters form a lifelong bond with their new pet. Additionally, the organization offers cost-effective spay and neuter services once pets reach a certain weight and age. 

Nothing compares to the love of a furry friend. That’s why SPCA is dedicated to do everything in their power to keep pets and families together. We at Chapel Hill Tire feel fortunate to be a part of the same community as SPCA of Wake County — a community that uplifts and cares for each other. To learn more about their mission and programs – and maybe even find your next best buddy – please visit spcawake.org.

What’s Up With That? How Tires Help Your Car Stop.

detail of different tire treads

Brakes stop your wheels, but tires are what really stops your car.

When the roads are clear and dry, it’s easy to forget about your tires. Just like the shoes you wear every day, your tires are not top of mind – unless something goes wrong. 

If you’ve ever worn dress shoes on a slick, wet sidewalk, you know what we mean. Suddenly, that slippery feeling underfoot makes your shoes a whole lot less comfortable. But if you change those dress shoes to a pair of hiking boots, with nice deep tread and non-slip soles, that unsettling slippery feeling goes away.

Just like you need to pick the right shoes for the job – sneakers for the gym, dress shoes for the office, or hiking boots for protection from the elements – you also need the right tires for your driving conditions. But since tires are a whole lot harder to change than shoes, traction and stopping power win out over good looks.

While keeping your brake system in good running order is essential to stopping your car, your tires will make or break your braking ability. And the stopping power of your tires all comes down to two things. First is the contact patch, the part that’s actually in contact with the ground. Just as important is the condition of that contact patch, or how much tread is left on your tires.

The Contact Patch: Your Car’s Footprint 

Just like you, your car has a footprint. Since your car is a lot bigger than you, you’d expect its footprint to be bigger, too. But it isn’t. Your car’s footprint, also known as the contact patch, isn’t any larger than the size of your own soles. Why so small? So your tires won’t get thrown out of shape each time you brake, and will stay round and roll smoothly.

Unless you’re Fred Flintstone, you’re probably wondering: How the heck can such a small spot of rubber keep your car from sliding off the road?

The secret lies in the detail-oriented design of your car’s tires. Tire manufacturers have been testing and refining their tread depth, contact patches, and tire materials for decades, all with the goal of providing maximum stopping power in the widest variety of conditions. 

One of the most innovative designs is Michelin’s Pilot® Sport All-Season 3+™. Its contact patch is precision-tuned, and made of a special oil-based compound that delivers peak performance year-round, no matter the weather conditions.

Even the most expertly engineered contact patch, however, won’t transfer braking power from your wheels to the road, if it doesn’t have enough tread. Just like slick-soled shoes on a wet sidewalk, driving on bald tires will take the traction right out from under you. So, no matter what tires you choose, you’ll want to keep an eye on how much tread they have left. We check your tread every time your car comes into our shop for any service, but you can also conduct a quick test anytime, anywhere.

The Coin Test: Quarters, Not Pennies, Tell You When to Change Your Tires

Abe Lincoln may have been as honest as politicians come, but his likeness has been used to spread some bad advice about when you should change your tires. If you’ve ever been wondering out loud whether you need new tires, only to have a friend pull a fresh penny out of their pocket in response, you may have fallen prey to the infamous “penny test”.

The idea is sound: Use a common coin to tell whether your tire still has enough tread to keep you safe. Insert the penny into a tread with Honest Abe’s head pointing towards the tire, if you can see the top of his head, it’s time for new tires. But there’s a big problem with this test: According to tire experts, the 1/16th of an inch that’s between the rim of a penny and the top of Abe’s head just isn’t enough.

And those same tire experts just cannot tell a lie: They think George Washington is a much better gauge of tire health than Lincoln. Conduct the same test using a quarter, and you get a full 1/8th of an inch between the rim and Washington’s head – and a much better sense of whether you need new tires.

In the end, your tires have the final say on how well your car stops when you press on the brakes. Keeping your car’s footprint in good shape is a critical step in maximizing your stopping power.

Our Culture: Treat Each Other Like Family

Welcoming Wegman’s – another values-based company – to our community

Imagine: You’ve just had such an amazing experience that you go out of your way to write a love letter to… A grocery store? At Wegman’s that’s a reality, with around 7,000 customers a year penning everything from simple thank you notes to requests for a new Wegman’s location near them.

Wegmans brick facade showing their sign and windows with colorful ads

It’s not just the customers who love Wegman’s, though. Among the many awards they’ve received from the business media, they have been ranked in FORTUNE magazine’s list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For every year since it was started in 1998. How do they do it? They start with a simple core commitment: helping customers and employees live healthier, better lives through food.

While we’re in the business of tires, repairs, and maintenance, not selling bread and milk, we share a core value with Wegman’s. By treating each other like family, both of our businesses hope to build stronger communities.

Founded in Rochester, New York by brothers Walter and John Wegman in 1916, Wegman’s has continued to be passed down from generation to generation, even as it has grown from a single storefront to 150 stores employing 52,000 people. All along the way, they’ve been guided by a spirit of treating everyone like family, from their employees, to customers, to members of their wider community.

Maybe the most inspiring part about Wegman’s is their ability to live their values out each and every day. As an example, to protect the health of their employees and communities, they stopped selling tobacco products more than 12 years ago. Plus, they offer free smoking cessation programs to all their employees. 

Their people-centric approach doesn’t prevent them from running a hugely successful business, though. Last year, gross sales topped $9 billion. 

Those sales aren’t where the story ends. Each year, Wegman’s commits to donating nearly 20 million pounds of food to local food banks, over $10 million to local charities and events, and nearly $5 million dollars to an employee scholarship fund that ensures every member of their team has a clear path to career advancement. 

More recently, they’ve made big changes to their sustainability, too – drastically reducing their contributions to landfills, creating sustainable packaging, and reducing emissions for their fleet of trucks. Combined with their commitment to sourcing as much food as possible from local farmers, this makes Wegman’s stand out as a grocery store that’s looking toward contributing to a healthier world today, tomorrow, and for many years to come.

We’re proud to know that we share a core value with Wegman’s: Treat each other like family. Maybe it comes from the fact that both Wegman’s and Chapel Hill Tire are family-owned businesses that have been passed down from generation to generation. All we know is, we’re happy to welcome Wegman’s into our community – and we look forward to working alongside them to make our community a better place for our employees and customers. 

Our People: Terry Govoreau

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

Thank you for putting our values to work every day

Here at Chapel Hill Tire, our “Work Happy” culture is based on the idea that happy employees create happy customers, and happy customers create a thriving business. It is a culture we try to create by living our five values: 

  • Strive for excellence
  • Treat each other like family
  • Say yes to customers and each other
  • Be grateful and helpful
  • Win as a team (and the customer is part of the team)

Although he was sceptical at first, Terry Govoreau was instantly absorbed into the Chapel HIll Tire culture when he began working with us in 2019. “People were talking about values and what they believe in and how it guides them at work, and I was taken aback,” he said. “It was unlike anything I’d experienced before. Once I saw it in action, though, I knew this was a place I wanted to be.”

Terry Govoreau smiles. He's wearing a dark blue polo with the Chapel Hill Tire logo.

As our Human Resources Director, Terry interacts with employees regularly, getting to know each of them and providing assistance when needed. If an employee is ever seeking help, they turn to him, and he happily works to solve their stressors. 

Of all our values, “be grateful and helpful” is the one that resonates most with Terry. Throughout his life, he has been drawn to helping others, and this value is always part of his job. 

“It’s my job to take on the difficult things that employees find stressful. I’m happy to help so that they have one less thing to worry about. Without fail, every employee that I’m able to help and interact with is so grateful. It’s inspiring because I’m really just doing my job. I’m grateful every day that I walk into this place and see the level of care that everyone treats each other with,” he says. 

Outside of work, Terry enjoys spending time with his wife and two children and cheering on his favorite sports team, the Kansas City Chiefs. 

“I know my coworkers will give me a hard time for this, but I love to say, ‘I bleed red for the Kansas City Chiefs and bleed blue for Chapel Hill Tire,” he said with a smile. 

As much as Terry feels grateful to work at Chapel Hill Tire each day, all of us here are grateful to have him on our team. Thank you, Terry, for all you do to help us Work Happy.