Our Values: What It Really Means to Treat Each Other Like Family

Chapel Hill Tire Values

Chapel Hill Tire is a family company in more ways than one

Here at Chapel Hill Tire, treating each other like family is more than just marketing jargon — it’s a way of life that guides everything we do. And a lot of that dedication to treating people right comes straight from the company’s patriarch, Al Pons, and his desire to pass it down to the next generation of his family.

The trouble is, you’ll find advertisements everywhere saying that all these businesses treat their staff like family. So what does that really mean in this day and age?

That’s why we’d like to take a minute here while we have your attention to explain a little bit more about how we think of our Chapel Hill Tire family, across all of our locations.

We Choose to Care

In our personal lives, choosing to care can take a lot of different forms: Laying out our kids’ clothes the night before, making a nutritious breakfast for our families, and setting aside quality time on the weekends all make a difference — and help to keep our families and communities working in harmony.

The same is true in business, just on a different scale. When we think about choosing to care, it starts before anyone even walks into the store in the morning. Have everybody’s scheduling needs been taken care of? Does every employee have an opportunity to advance to a fulfilling and meaningful career?

But probably most important of all: Are we treating each other like we’d want to be treated? The Golden Rule is as relevant now as it’s ever been, and we try to live that value in our personal and work lives here at Chapel Hill Tire. To us, that’s family.

It’s About Relationships

No matter how successful a business might be on paper, it really doesn’t mean as much if they aren’t contributing to making real, lasting relationships in their communities.

For us, that starts with the amazing people we hire at each of our Chapel Hill Tire locations. People like Todd Ward, who has been working with us for over 35 years now, or relative newcomer Terry Govoreau, who says “I’m grateful every day that I walk into this place and see the level of care that everyone treats each other with.”

Empowering those people with our Core Values gives them the tools necessary to create deep relationships, both with their coworkers and with the folks who come in to get their cars worked on time and time again.

In short, we want to journey together and grow together — all while staying accountable to ourselves, to each other, and to our larger communities. And if we’ve done all of that right, we hope to include you as a part of our big Chapel Hill Tire family so that we can all work happy and drive happy together well into the future.

Our News: Fine-Tuning Our Relationship With Chapel Hill High’s Racing Team

aerial photo of green trees and a curving road

Thanks in part to donations from Chapel Hill Tire, local high schoolers get the opportunity to work on a real NASCAR race car before they graduate

Here in North Carolina, we have a long history of working on our own vehicles — going all the way back to bootlegging during Prohibition, when distillers would need fast and maneuverable cars to deliver their illicit goods. Those early modifications eventually led to the development of their own sport, in the form of the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing, NASCAR.

And while that rum-running history is mostly behind us, the appeal to work on fine-tuning a vehicle for racing is as present as ever. Through our work with Chapel Hill High’s Racing Team, we’re proud to offer the most dedicated high school seniors the opportunity to work on a real NASCAR race car — earning valuable experience before they graduate, and possibly going on to participate in the North Carolina Auto Apprenticeship Program.

About the Program

Chapel Hill High is one of the few schools you’ll find where in addition to a football team and a basketball team, they also have a dedicated stock car racing team. That’s a product of their Automotive Service program, which students can take for all four years of high school — and end up participating in a real race-day build in their senior year.

The Automotive Service program is just one part of the Career and Technical Education Department at Chapel Hill High, a department whose goal is “to provide students with a competitive advantage as they leave high school,”  said CTE Director Kathi Breweur.

For the students who go on to work through all four levels of the Automotive Service program, that unique opportunity takes the form of working on a NASCAR late model stock car, running a Chevy 350 engine. That car will go on to race at the Wake County Speedway in Raleigh, NC, where the students will be able to see the real-life results of all their hard work and dedication.

Striving for Excellence and Winning As A Team

Chapel Hill Tire’s Core Values guide everything we do, and that’s a big part of why we’re so proud to contribute to our communities through this program.

By giving local high school students the opportunity to strive for excellence — stock cars are a detail-oriented, high speed affair after all — and win as a team, we hope to continue to spread those values into every corner of our community. And if some of those students go on to pursue apprenticeship programs or want to jump right into the automotive service workforce, we’d love to have them join our family here at Chapel Hill Tire.

Our People: Jason Silva Rojas

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

Our latest apprentice was born and raised in this area, and has big aspirations as an automotive technician

For Jason Silva Rojas, an interest in cars and automotive repair took hold early in life. He got his start like many of us did, holding a flashlight for his Dad while he worked on general maintenance and engine repairs.

It was only natural, then, that when the time came to start thinking about what he might want to do after graduating high school, Jason turned towards working on cars and trucks. And as luck would have it, a friend of Jason’s would tip him off to what would become his next step in life — an apprenticeship program through Wake Tech.

“I’m really grateful for my experience with the apprenticeship program”, says Jason, adding that it has been a great way for him to continue his automotive education without having to take on student loan debt.

Especially because he’s lived his entire life in the Apex area, Jason was really looking for a way to stay local and still have a genuine career path. When asked about his motivations, Jason responded “I’m really hoping to become a good [automotive] tech.”

We’re proud to report that he’s getting plenty of opportunities to do just that, in his role as an apprentice in our Apex location. While there, he’s continuing his education through the apprenticeship program at the same time as he’s learning real on-the-job skills.

On any given day, he might be asked to check up on cars, relay information to his fellow techs, do a few oil changes, and then help the more senior techs with hands-on repairs. And because our Apex location is right down the road from the high school Jason graduated from, he gets to see some familiar faces: “It’s actually really cool, I get to see some of my old teachers and change their oil and fix their cars.”

Jason will be celebrating his one year anniversary of working with Chapel Hill Tire this August, and we’re looking forward to continuing to see him grow and develop. That’s part of our commitment to treating everyone we work with like family: We want to always be accountable to ourselves, each other, and our communities, and be able to journey and grow together as we pursue excellence in our personal and professional lives.

As for his overall take on the apprenticeship program, Jason is a big fan: “The apprenticeship is a good opportunity for anyone who wants to further their education in the automotive industry. If they’re interested in this field, this is a great way to get into it.”

What’s Up With That? Understanding Your Cabin Air Filter

Cabin Air Filter

Allergies acting up? Persistent odors when you turn on your A/C? It might be time to change your cabin air filter.

Just like your home, your car has a heating and cooling (HVAC) system. It’s what keeps you warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and comfortable in the spring and fall. And when it comes to making sure that you’re breathing the freshest and cleanest air possible in your car — and avoiding the worst of allergies and pollutants — you’ll be relying heavily on your cabin air filter.

What is A Cabin Air Filter, Anyway?

Midway through your car’s heating and cooling system, all the air that’s passing through from the great outdoors to the inside of your car’s cabin passes through — you guessed it — the cabin air filter.

This cloth fiber based filter looks a lot like the air conditioner filters in your home, with plenty of pleats that help it capture dust, pollen, and allergens. It’s usually located right behind your glovebox, and plays a key role in making sure your vehicle’s HVAC system works as cleanly and efficiently as possible.

How Your Cabin Air Filter is Like A Sponge

Probably the easiest way to understand how a cabin air filter works is to consider the common kitchen sponge.

When they’re fresh and new, both your cabin air filter and a sponge will be entirely clean and ready to “soak up” dust, dirt, and grime. Air filters take these nasty bits out of the air; sponges take them off of hard surfaces.

But as anyone who’s cleaned a kitchen knows, no sponge lasts forever. After a few weeks of use, they’ll start to look a little bit ragged — and worse yet, start developing a musty smell that’s impossible to ignore while you’re cleaning.

Lucky for you, your car’s cabin air filter lasts a lot longer than an average kitchen sponge! More on that in a moment.

But once it starts to wear out, your air filter will show a lot of the same problems as a sponge. You might notice a damp or musty smell in your car’s cabin while you’re running your fans, or you might notice that your HVAC system just isn’t able to produce as much airflow — meaning that it’s no longer capable of effectively cleaning the air coming into your car.

When Should You Change Your Cabin Air Filter?

Most manufacturers recommend changing it somewhere between every 15,000 and 30,000 miles (you can check your car’s manual to find the exact recommendation for your make and model). You can think of that as changing it on every third or fourth oil change, if you want to lump everything together into one maintenance trip.

But a lot of how often you need to change your car’s air filters depends on the quality of the air you’re usually driving in. Spend lots of time on gravel roads? That’ll cut down on your filter’s lifespan. Stuck in heavy traffic every day after work? All those exhaust fumes can really take a toll on your car’s filtering abilities.

Instead, you can know that it’s time to get your cabin air filter checked and replaced when these signs start to show up:

  • Weak airflow from your vents, even when they’re set to high
  • A musty or damp odor when you’re running your fans
  • Excessive noise while you’re running your heating or cooling system

If any of these show up, give us a call. We can take a look at your car’s air filters and let you know whether they need to be replaced, and set you up with a new cabin air filter if your old one is worn out.

Our Community: Empowering Through Apprenticeships

Aerial photo showing green trees and buildings

We’re proud members of the North Carolina Auto Apprenticeship program and have high hopes for the impact it can have on young people’s lives.

For the better part of 500 years, apprenticeships were the most common way that young people would learn a trade and develop it into a career. It’s only been in the past 50 years or so that we’ve moved away from apprenticeship as a worthwhile way to give our kids direction and skills in life. And that’s got to make you wonder: Why?

See, we think that apprenticeships — like the ones offered through the North Carolina Auto Apprenticeship Program — are one of the best ways for young adults to find their place in life. That’s why we’re proud to support the program through hiring their apprentices to work in our shops across the Triangle. And it’s also why we’d like to share a little bit about the NC Auto Apprenticeship Program with you.

What Is the NC Auto Apprenticeship Program, Anyway?

This apprenticeship program is a unique one that’s only available here in North Carolina, with some branches run by the Automotive Service and Tire Alliance (ASTA) — but anyone in the state can form their own apprenticeship plan as long as it meets the state guidelines.

According to the ASTA, this program “is seeking current high school seniors interested in pursuing a successful automotive career for participation in the 2020-2021 North Carolina Automotive Apprenticeship Program. Apprentices in the program receive a free education through the North Carolina Community College system while gaining on-the-job experience and earning wages by working part-time at an approved shop.”

Or, in short: This apprenticeship program can take a high school senior with an interest in the automotive service industry, give them all the tools necessary to pursue their education free of charge, and then help them find immediate placement in the workforce. For a generation that’s facing increasingly high student loan debt, that’s a darned attractive option!

Our Role

Chapel Hill Tire is proud to be one of the approved shops participating in the NC Auto Apprenticeship program. That means once a high school senior gets signed up for the program, they could easily find themselves learning real on-the-job skills — all while earning a paycheck — at one of our stores.

We’re increasingly dedicated to nurturing a community of technicians here and now, so that our communities both receive a successful member of the workforce and a highly trained automotive technician. Because when we all take care of each other, our entire community benefits as a result.

How You Can Get Involved

Do you know any high schoolers who might be interested in an apprenticeship program through the ASTA? If so, please help them get in touch with the NC Auto Apprenticeship Program — because we’d love to welcome them into the Chapel Hill Tire family once they’re graduated and ready to move onto the next phase of their training!

Our Community: Kindness Accomplished!

repeating pattern of "Be Kind" in bold letters with a heart social media icon

Thank you to everyone who participated in our 2021 12 Days of Kindness

We had a lot of fun. We helped six great Triangle-area non-profit organizations achieve their important missions. We met a bunch of kind people along the way – and we’re looking forward to seeing all of you as the kindness continues into 2022.

This year, our six participating organizations were:

Their great work continues throughout the year. So, if you’re looking for a good cause to support, please consider one of these organizations.

Our top-scoring teams – the ones whose members performed the most acts of kindness – were:

  • Refugee Support Center
  • Note In The Pocket
  • Meals On Wheels Of Durham

As our first-place finisher, Refugee Support Center received a $3,000 donation from Chapel Hill Tire. For completing the second-most acts of kindness, Note In The Pocket received a $2,000 donation. And for rounding our top three, we sent Meals On Wheels Of Durham $1,000!

Again, thank you to everyone who participated. We are truly grateful to live in a community filled with generous, caring, kind people like you!

Our Values: Creating A Workplace Where Women Thrive

Chapel Hill Tire Values

At Chapel Hill Tire everyone is welcome to learn, grow, and excel

We believe that everyone who chooses to work at Chapel Hill should enjoy a career that offers unparalleled growth, achievement, and meaning. We empower each other through our company values, including our belief that our workplace should be inclusive, caring, and accountable. And for the women who work here, those values translate into opportunity.

Izzy Aguila, General Service Technician, Atlantic Ave location

Speaking of our culture of inclusivity, Presleigh Anderson, the manager at our Atlantic Avenue location, says, “Chapel Hill Tire welcomes everyone with no hesitation. I have been treated so well since I started 4 years ago in June, right out of high school. As a female in a male-dominated field, I thought it would be more difficult for me than any other career path. But Chapel Hill Tire changed my perspective on working happily. I feel heard and believe my opinions matter in the company, and there are multiple opportunities for growth and development across the board.”

Controller Jaclyn Burns agrees, “Chapel Hill Tire believes that every employee brings value to the company,” she said. “No person is more important than another. Every opinion and idea matters. Because of this, I get a chance to listen consistently and I always feel heard. Decisions are collaborative and inclusive, and work is autonomous.” All of this, together, makes this company somewhere that she has been happy to build a career for the past 16 years.

Just what is it that makes Chapel Hill Tire such a different place to work? It’s all about our people — men and women alike — and the values that we choose to share on a daily basis.

Isabella Aguila, a general service technician at our Atlantic Avenue location, makes this abundantly clear. “I have worked for a few places that post their workplace ‘values’ on the wall,” she said. “Usually, they’re just posters that hold no weight. CHT is the only company that lives their values day in, day out, every day. They truly care and treat you as more than a number on a payroll. They treat everyone equally and they are always here for all of us. I wake up every day excited to work and see my team because they are my family.”

By striving for excellence and treating each other like family, we open the door to anyone who wants to be part of a team that pushes each other to be our absolute best. As our bookkeeper Lauren Kleczkowski notes, “The work culture at Chapel Hill Tire is incredibly unique. I believe they have captured what other companies strive to achieve. They care about my career and want me to be the best that I can. They don’t want to be just ‘okay’ or ‘humdrum’ – and it’s not what I want to be, either.”

Service advisor Emely Bernal agrees. “Chapel Hill Tire is a company that provides a great environment for anyone to work at,” she said. “There is so much that you can learn here and there are so many people pushing you to learn. It really makes you want to be the best version that you can be of yourself, especially when you’re surrounded by so many people who want that for themselves.”

By saying yes to our customers and to each other, we create an environment where everyone can be authentically grateful and helpful. Riz Smith, a general service technician at our University Place location, explains this so well, saying, “For me, Chapel Hill Tire brings something I’ve never found in a company before – honesty. Everyone here I’ve met shows up truly and authentically and makes you feel like family. We show up for each other every single day!”

We sincerely applaud the efforts of everyone on our team. Because when we win, we win as a team. As Jess Cervantes, parts coordinator at our Cole Park Plaza location, observes, “This is not a place where we just come to work. We really are a family that helps each other out on a daily basis, on both a professional and personal level. You can always count on someone to lend a hand when it’s needed most.”

If you know a bright and talented woman who wants a career with a company that values them and wants to help them achieve professional success, please send them our way. We’d love to welcome them into the Chapel Hill Tire family.

As our owner, Marc Pons, has said, “We love having more women working here! The energy they bring to Chapel Hill Tire is so unique. It really builds on itself to create a solid team where everyone can feel like they belong.”

Thank you to all of the women – and men – who make Chapel Hill Tire such a special place to work!

What’s Up With That? Those Numbers On Tires’ Sidewalls

Government agents are sending coded messages

No, it’s not the CIA sending secret transmissions to agents in the field. It’s not the combination to the lock on the door of some top secret government facility. It’s just that the Department of Transportation (DOT) really wants you to drive safely. So much so, that they put vital information that will tell you when it’s time to get new tires, right at your fingertips. You just have to decode it.

We’re not talking about tread wear, here. The quarter test (put a quarter in your tire’s tread with Washington’s head pointing toward the tire, if the tread doesn’t reach to his head, you need new tires), takes care of that.

We’re talking about your tire’s age. Even if you only drive on weekends. Even if that quarter reaches all the way up to George’s schnoz, your tires degrade over time.

How long does a tire last? About five years. How can you know how old your tires are? That’s where the code comes in.

How to read your tire’s DOT code

It packs a lot of information. It will tell you where the tire was made, what size it is, and who made it. But the info you want is the last four digits. They tell you the week and year it was made.

Start by looking for the letters “DOT” on the sidewall. Next comes the two digit plant code that tells you where the tire was made. Then you’ll see a two-number size code.  Sometimes, that will be followed by three digits that are used by manufacturers in the event of a recall.

You want to focus on the last four digits, the ones that tell you when it was made. For example, if the last four digits are “1520”, your tire was made in the 15th week — or about April 10 — of 2020. As soon as we pass the 15th week (April 10) of 2025, you want new tires, no matter how thick the tread might be.

Do you really need to worry about your tire’s age? It depends.

The average American drives about 16,000 miles per year. The average tires these days will go about 60,000 miles. So, the average American will wear out their tread in less than four years, and will never have to worry about this code. The quarter test will tell them that their tread has worn too thin.

But we’re not all average. Some of us drive a whole lot, and may want tires that can give us 80,000 miles or more of tread life.

Some of us don’t drive very much at all. We’ll want to take a look at the last four digits of that DOT code. And if the last two digits are five years less than the current year, we’ll want to start thinking about new tires.

Is it Time for New Tires? We’ll Check for You

And some of us don’t want to check our tire tread or decode that DOT number. But we sure do want to know if our tires are safe. If you have any doubts about your tires’ age, tread, or driving ability, just stop by and ask us to check them for you.

Our technicians will be happy to take a look at your tires and tell you how much life they have left. We won’t even charge you a quarter. And if it is time to get some new tires, our Price Beat Guarantee makes sure you get the best price on exactly the ones you want.

Our Community: Erin Matson

Aerial photo showing green trees and buildings

UNC Field Hockey star inspires us to strive for excellence in all we do.

UNC Women’s Field Hockey star Erin Matson continuously strives for excellence both on and off the field. As captain of the Tar Heels National Championship Field Hockey Team, she is an exemplary athlete. As an advertising and public relations major at UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, she is a great student. We couldn’t be more grateful to have Erin as part of our Chapel Hill Tire community.

Raised in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, some might say that Erin was destined to be a great athlete. After all, her mom Jill played softball and field hockey at Yale while her dad Brian played baseball at Delaware. Erin quickly grew up to be a star field hockey player. In high school, she earned All-America and All-Region honors, worked as a youth field hockey coach, excelled academically, and secured a spot on the UNC Field Hockey team.

Erin started in all 23 field hockey games in her freshman year, led UNC in goals and assists, and earned numerous accolades throughout the season. Raising the bar in her sophomore year, she led the nation in points and goals per game. As a junior, she was named first-team All-America for the third year in a row. Now, as a senior, she is also a member of the U.S. National Field Hockey Team.

Her classroom performance matches her on-the-field excellence.  She has been named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll and the NFHCA National Academic Squad. After she graduates, she hopes to continue working with leaders, and aspires to earn a position at Nike. Despite all of her accomplishments and ambitions, though, Erin still enjoys the simple things in life. When she’s not helping her team win or mastering her course material, she enjoys going to the beach, attending yoga classes, or just spending the day shopping or watching sports with friends and family.

We feel very fortunate to have recently partnered with Erin in a Name-Image-Likeness deal and feel very proud to have her as part of our Chapel Hill Tire family. We look forward to cheering her on both on and off the field as she continues to strive for excellence.

Our People: Jess Cervantes

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

Thank you for inspiring us to live our values in every part of our lives.

“I don’t just live out Chapel Hill Tire’s values at work. I take them home with me, and I live them out in my personal life every single day,” said Jess Cervantes.

From spending time with friends and family, to enjoying a hike, detailing cars, or just driving to work, Jess consistently treats everyone like family, strives for excellence, and always acts grateful and helpful. She greets each day with a smile and a positive attitude, and shows up ready to tackle any task that comes her way.

As a service coordinator at Chapel Hill Tire, her task list can take her in many different directions! On any given day, she dispatches technical work, builds estimates, orders parts, helps foster communication, and does quite a few other things, as well.

“I wanted to find a place of work that would help me build my future. I was lucky enough to get a chance to work at Chapel Hill Tire, and now I get to expand my knowledge and learn more every day,” said Jess.

“I’m the first Hispanic female that is part of the LGBTQ community to work here,” she said, “and I love the fact that the company is a family. I’ve made great friends and feel like everyone is always there to listen and help. Plus, I’m able to relate back to our female customers and other members of the community.”

We are grateful to have Jess as part of our Chapel Hill Tire family. Her professionalism, care for others and gratitude inspire us to live out our company values in all aspects of life, just like she does.