Our People: Bucky Ragan

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

Joy Is Always An Option

Meet Bucky Ragan, for over 30 years, he has worked to brighten each customer’s day 

At Chapel Hill Tire, we’ve become convinced that happy employees create happy customers. Over the past 30 or so years, Bucky Ragan has done a lot of that convincing. He has greeted each day with a great attitude, and put forth his best effort to leave people feeling happier than when he found them. 

Service advisor Bucky Ragan

A service advisor at our University Mall location, Bucky followed in his father’s footsteps when he began working with us back in 1989. His dad was part of our University Mall team when we moved to this location in 1972.

“It’s just all around a good experience working right beside my father,” said Bucky. “He’s taught me a lot.”.

Plotting his own course, Bucky has become a customer favorite by creating joyful interactions with the people we serve. “Not everyone is excited to take their car to the shop. They’re already worried about spending money, so I try to put a smile on their face,” he said.

“People love him. He knows everybody,” said Sean McNally, who works closely with Ragan as the University Mall store manager. “One of the main reasons is that, more often than not, he’ll go above and beyond”.

A few years ago, a hurricane rolled through North Carolina, and many people feared it would leave gas shortages in its wake. Knowing that an ederly customer was concerned that they wouldn’t be able to get around, “Bucky came in at 6am and filled her car up with gas and brought it back to her,” said McNally. “He does nice things for a lot of people, but that was over the top.”          

“He’s an honest guy,” coworker John Ogburn said. He’ll review bills over and over, and if he has any question about a charge, he’ll come down on the side of the customer.”   

Without a doubt, Ragan does his best day in and day out to lift the spirits of those around him. All the while, he feels grateful to have spent the past three decades with Chapel Hill Tire. He said, “They’re all great people here. They do what they say they’re going to do and take really good care of you. I love the line of work I’m in.”

Bucky Ragan goes far beyond just fixing cars and selling tires. He spreads positivity every chance he gets, knowing that a simple smile goes a long way. As we mentioned, here at Chapel Hill Tire we’ve become convinced that happy employees create happy customers, and Bucky Ragan has surely done a lot of that convincing. 

Coming Together In Challenging Times

face mask and wrenches on a surface

To work through the COVID-19 crisis, we focus on what matters most

“Treat each other like family. That’s one of our five core values, and it’s the one that mattered most when the COVID-19 crisis hit,” said Atlantic Ave. store manager, Chris Davis. “Our company really came together; we had each other’s backs, and that was passed on to the team and the customers,” 

While many across the globe stayed home in the early weeks of the pandemic, Chapel Hill Tire, as an essential business, came to work every day. “We really took treating each other like family to heart,” said general service technician Steve Meyer. “How could we help each other?  What’s good for customers?  Employees?  Managers?  Staying focused on those questions really helped us through this.”

Although COVID-19 continued to separate many from friends and family, the team at Chapel Hill Tire grew stronger and more united. Technician Brian Fretz said, “We all strive for excellence. That’s what the company has instilled in us.”  

“Strive for excellence” is another one of our company values, and another one that we kept at top of mind as we made employee safety a top priority. “I never felt worried about coming to work, ever,” said Fretz. “Everyone made us feel comfortable and safe.”  

Steve Meyer echoed Fretz’s statement, “The company did everything they possibly could to take care of us. No expense was spared for us or the customers to be safe.” 

“I was very grateful to still have my job and still have income. I felt safe and reassured and felt like the company took preventive steps to have us prepared,” said Chris Davis.

Chapel Hill Tire protected employees and customers alike by implementing the use of steering wheel and seat covers, wiping down all points of contact in vehicles, and having employees wear masks while working. Additionally, we started a free pickup and delivery program so that customers could receive no-contact service. “We’re more alert now and taking steps to be safer and doing our part. I believe the company has changed in a positive way because of COVID,” said Davis. 

“We were definitely concerned for our customers,” said Steve Meyer. We wouldn’t want someone to get sick on our watch because we weren’t following proper protocol. We followed CDC guidelines and continued to be compliant with NC guidelines to do our part for our community.” 

With the world slowly starting to open back up, Chapel Hill Tire continues to be guided by its values, and is more united than ever before. As Steve Meyer said, “Take a hard situation, put people into it, have a common goal, and people will become closer. I’ve never been more proud of the whole team than when I saw us stick together from Chapel Hill to Raleigh. Living our values, we did our best to root each other on, and to remember that we don’t just take care of cars, we take care of people.”  

What’s Up With That? The Cool Science Of Air Conditioning

air conditioning vent

A look at what goes on behind the vents

Old North State summers get so daggum hot that you could slow-cook a chuck roast on your dashboard. When the outside air temperature is in the 80 to 100 degree range, the inside temperature of a car parked in direct sunlight can shoot up to about 150 – more than enough to braise a slab of beef. So if you feel like you’re roasting when you’re riding in a car without air conditioning, well, you are.

If you’re into that sort of thing, the cult classic cookbook, “Manifold Destiny” will tell you pretty much everything you’ll want to know about the automobile as a culinary device. For those of us who would rather not use our car as an oven, though, its air conditioning (A/C) system was designed solely to keep us comfortable as we’re cruising down those sun-strewn summer highways. 

And it works so well, it’s easy to take it for granted. Until it doesn’t work so well. Let’s hope that’s not after your car has been sitting in the middle of a North Carolina parking lot on a summer afternoon. 

Actually, you don’t have to hope, because your A/C gives you some clues that it needs a little attention well before it breathes its last cool breath. Even better news is that, if you’re the cautious type, you don’t even have to wait for those clues. When the weather starts turning warm, a little maintenance checkup can sometimes save you from sweating over a hot commute and the cost of a big repair. 

Let’s take a quick look at that little comfort machine, so you can recognize the signs that may be about to give out. 

A/C: The Basics

There are six main components of your A/C system: a compressor, a condenser, a thermal expansion valve, an evaporator, an accumulator, and a chemical refrigerant. Each component has to work properly for you to get the relief you want. If one piece underperforms or fails, your body’s cooling system takes over. In other words, you’re sweating like crazy.

Here’s how it works: 

The compressor compresses the refrigerant from a gas into a liquid and sends it down the refrigerant line to the condenser. 

Inside the condenser, the refrigerant flows through a small grid. Air passes across this grid, removing heat from the refrigerant, which then passes over to the expansion valve.

At the expansion valve the pressure in the line is reduced, and the refrigerant turns back into a gas. This gas goes into the accumulator. 

The accumulator removes moisture from the refrigerant, and sends its drier, cooler product to the evaporator. 

Air from outside blows across the evaporator core, giving its heat to the refrigerant, and becoming cool in exchange. Since cooler air holds less moisture, it also becomes less humid (that’s why you see puddles of water under recently parked cars on hot summer days; just a few minutes ago, that water was making the air sticky). 

Finally, that delightfully cool, dry air passes through your cabin air filter and reaches you as a fresh, cool breeze (or a nice cold blast, if you’re in the mood).

Noticing There’s an A/C Problem

There are two main clues that will let you know your A/C system has a problem: smell and noise. If it exudes a damp or musty stench, that’s your first clue. Typically, this smell means that microorganisms like mold, mildew, or fungi have taken up residence in your system. Why did they start to grow there? They like moist surfaces. So, the smell is a sign that your A/C is not cooling the air enough to reduce its humidity to the desired level. 

Maybe the air smells fine, but you hear a noise coming out of your vents. That’s clue number two. A buzzing sound is usually the result of too much refrigerant passing into the compressor, which could leak and cause damage to your car.

Maintenance Beats Repair

Bad smells and buzzing usually mean trouble, but you don’t have to wait for trouble. To keep everything cool, just ask us to give your A/C a quick check-up when the weather starts to turn warm. You’ll not only avoid unpleasant smells, irritating noises, and unwelcome roasting, you can avoid the larger repair – or replacement – that can follow those signs of trouble. Or, if you’re into that sort of thing, you could just pick up a copy of “Manifold Destiny,” and explore your talents as a “chef de cruise-ine.”

More Relentless Than Kudzu

lush green kudzu leaves

Decades of community service have shown Steve Price that nothing dampens the Chapel Hill spirit

Once it started pouring, Steve Price was sure all the volunteers he had gathered to clean up overgrown kudzu around Chapel Hill would just call it a day. But it seems, even after decades of service, Chapel Hill still had some surprises for him. 

“They refused to leave until they had gotten this area cleared,” Price said. “Even when it was rainy and miserable, they wanted to get this done.” 

It says a lot about the Chapel Hill community – but it also says a lot about Price.

Steve Price has lived here since 1983, working at UNC-TV, serving as youth minister of his church, sitting on the Town Parks and Recreation Committee for seven years and now continuing to serve in various advisory roles. But he never just lived here.

A UNC-Chapel Hill graduate with a degree in Radio, TV, and Motion Pictures, Price worked at UNC-TV for 30 years documenting the community. His work telling local stories would translate into his passion for bettering the town he had grown to love.

“You want to make the community a better place for yourself and everyone around you,” Price said.

Price’s most recent project, the kudzu clean-up, was one he had taken on from the Community Tree Committee and coordinated with UNC-Chapel Hill as well as the local Adopt-A-Trail program. Price had his first surprise of the day when, after having to reschedule once because of rain, the project saw a huge turn-out from people from all parts of town.

“It was this crazy cross-section of the community,” Price said. He noted seeing people from all walks of life, including students and older folks. What struck him, he said, was how unified everyone was, even when the rain started picking up.

“It was one of the most amazing service projects I’ve ever done,” Price said. “It was fun and people were really enjoying what they were doing.” 

And they kept working, even when they could barely stand up. As he saw his team slipping and sliding as the ground turned to mud, Price had to be the one to call it a day because no one wanted to stop. 

For Price, the collective tenacity he saw that day illustrates why he loves Chapel Hill.

“When one person takes the initiative, it’s amazing how people will rally around that cause,” Price said. “It’s what makes the Chapel Hill community so unique and wonderful.”

And, while he might be humble about it when asked, Price has often been that one person who others rally around as he stands up for a better town, and a better world. 

Many of Price’s projects, like the kudzu clean-up and his quarterly road clean-ups on highway 86, focus on improving Chapel Hill, but he also takes time to care for the people of his hometown. This year, he coordinated the delivery of Thanksgiving meals at the Inter-Faith Council pantry in his church, where he also regularly leads the volunteers who clean up the food pantry’s kitchen. Plus, he plans weekly activities for the youth, and just this last October he spent hours creating a haunted trail that went above and beyond anyone’s expectations.

“I see it as just giving back to this community that gave me so much,” Price said.

He’s also looking for socially-distant ways to keep bringing together those large groups that come out for his projects. At the kudzu clean-up, everyone was spread out in small teams, and they clearly weren’t letting anything stop them. In the future, Price mentioned getting families to volunteer together so they could work as a socially-distant team. 

Either way, Price is not just excited to get back to giving back – he never stopped for a second. Price knows that it only takes one person, one voice and everyone will gather together to support this unique and wonderful place he is proud to call home. 

And we think we’re speaking for everyone when we say that we’re proud to have Steve as a neighbor.

Chapel Hill Tire Offers Two New Services

Pickup and Delivery Car Service Raleigh

Pickup & Delivery and Curbside Services now available at all 8 locations

Chapel Hill, NC  (Thursday, May 8, 2020) –  In response to the need to minimize interpersonal interaction, Chapel Hill Tire began offering two new services in March. Curbside service allows customers to drop their cars off without having to come into the lobby. Free Pickup & Delivery provides a no-contact solution for those who must or would prefer to stay in their homes or offices.  Both services employ a text-to-pay feature to further minimize face-to-face transactions.

“While these services were born of extreme necessity,” said Marc Pons, president and co-owner of Chapel Hill Tire with his brother, Britt, “Free Pickup & Delivery has been so popular that we may continue to offer it when the need has passed.”

Both services are designed to be easy to use and to work with our existing convenience features of online appointment scheduling and progress reporting by text. To take advantage of these special services, please follow these steps:

Pickup & Delivery

  1. Visit the Chapel Hill Tire online appointment scheduler [https://www.chapelhilltire.com/make-an-appointment/]
  2. Under “Select Appointment Type,” choose “Pick-up and Delivery”
  3. Complete the form to make your appointment – be sure to list your cell phone number in your Contact Information, so you can receive updates by text
  4. Please wait for a confirmation email confirming the company’s ability to service you on the date and time requested
  5. Your confirmation email will let you know when the Chapel Hill Tire driver will arrive at your location; please have keys in your vehicle at that time; the driver will pick up your car and bring it to Chapel Hill Tire for service
  6. You will receive updates on the status of your service by text
  7. When your service is complete, you will receive a text-to-pay notification, so you can pay by phone
  8. The Chapel Hill Tire driver will return your vehicle to your location; your keys and a printed copy of your final invoice will be inside

Curbside Service

  1. Visit the Chapel Hill Tire online appointment scheduler [https://www.chapelhilltire.com/make-an-appointment/]
  2. Under “Select Appointment Type,” choose “Curbside Service”
  3. Complete the form to make your appointment – be sure to list your cell phone number in your Contact Information, so you can receive updates by text
  4. Once your appointment is booked, Chapel Hill Tire will send a text to let you know that your information has been loaded in their system
  5. Reply to the confirmation text when you arrive for your appointment
  6. A service advisor will come to your car to check you in
  7. You will receive updates on the status of your service by text
  8. When your service is complete, you will receive a text-to-pay notification to your cell phone, so you can pay by phone
  9. A printed copy of your final invoice and your keys will be in your car when you pick it up

About Chapel Hill Tire

First opened in 1953, Chapel Hill Tire provides comprehensive car care services for all makes and models, with a specialty in hybrid vehicles. Its tire inventory includes all major brands, and it offers the lowest price on new tires through its Price Beat Guarantee. The company operates eight stores in the Triangle area, and offers free pickup and delivery as well as curbside service at all eight locations. They welcome new customers via online appointment scheduling at chapelhilltire.com or by phone at (919) 932-7650.

Our Values – The Power Of A People-First Approach

The Power Of A People-First Approach

At Shake Shack, happy employees are the key to creating happy customers

There are a lot of differences between Shake Shack and Chapel Hill Tire. Shake Shack sells burgers and shakes. We service cars.

Shake Shack was founded in 2004. We’ve been around since 1953.

The last five years have been good for Chapel Hill Tire; we have opened three new stores and expanded into Raleigh. Shake Shack has done a bit better, growing sales from $217 million in 2014 to $672 million in 2019.

Shake Shack

There is one thing we have in common, though. Shake Shack takes an employees-first approach to running its company. So do we. 

Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti credits much of his company’s growth to employees that go above and beyond.  “Fifty-one percent employees,” he calls them. These are warm, friendly, motivated, caring, self-aware and intellectually curious team members. The 51 percent is the measure of the emotional skills needed to thrive at the job; the 49 percent describes the technical skills required.

Fifty-one percent employees are committed to championship performance, remarkable and enriching hospitality, embodying our culture, and actively growing themselves and the brand,” Garutti said in an interview for QSR magazine. 

You can’t fake your way to attracting 51 percenters. According to Garutti, you get them by paying higher wages, providing greater benefits, and treating them better, overall. As Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer notes, many companies that excel at customer experience often top “best places to work” lists. 

“We couldn’t agree more,” says Chapel Hill Tire president and co-owner Marc Pons. “You can’t have a great customer experience without a happy employee delivering it.” 

Looking forward, Shake Shack leadership is projecting that the company will top $891 million in sales by the end of 2021. And we think their solid people-first approach is their greatest strength as they work toward this milestone. 

“We’re in a people-led business,” Meyer said in an interview with QSR magazine. “It’s what we do better than anyone and it’s how we’re going to continue to invest so that we have restaurants that are standing with great leaders decades from now. But it’s never going to be easy.” 

“True,” said Pons. “It’s not easy. Getting the right set of values is just the start. You have to build your culture around those values. We have five core values at Chapel Hill Tire: Strive for excellence, treat each other like family, say yes to our customers and each other, be grateful and helpful, and win as a team. Each week we focus on one value, and the team discusses how we can live it out in all that we do.”

“For example, one of our people recently had an unusual opportunity to live out our value of saying yes to customers,” said Pons. “A customer who had just had an operation called the shop and asked if we could pick up her prescription. Thinking of this value, and knowing that she had nowhere else to turn, the employee agreed to pick up the prescription.”

“We also think our values are a great tool for training. This business requires flexibility. To be responsive, we empower employees to make decisions,” Pons said, “And as long as you can use our five core values to answer how you made a decision, you’re good.” 

 

What’s Up With That?

When your alignment goes awry, it can be a real drag

Each of your car’s tires places about 35 pounds per square inch of pressure on the road. That’s roughly the same amount of pressure as an adult male elephant standing at rest. 

Imagine that elephant standing with one foot on the ground and the other three on a trailer being pulled by your car. You start moving, and he’s going to pick that foot up in a hurry. He’s probably going to be pretty mad at you for taking off, too. I’d recommend being extra careful – and nice to the elephant – when you get out of the car.

wheel alignment

Okay, so you’re probably never going to tow an adult male elephant. But every time you drive, your car is putting about that much pressure on the road. You don’t want it dragging its feet, either. 

Potholes, that little bit of curb you jumped turning into the grocery store parking lot, all of those speed bumps you go over on the way to work – any sharp jolt – can make your wheels go out of alignment. And when your wheels are misaligned, your car is going to start dragging its feet.

What’s going on down there?

When your wheels are misaligned, your tires are pointed in different directions. One tire is trying to go one way, another is trying to go someplace else. It’s like a tug of war between your left and right tires, with each trying to drag the other in the direction it wants to go.

During this battle you may notice your steering wheel vibrating. Or, when one wheel wins the tug-of-war, you may notice your car drifting toward one side of the road. These are two of the most common clues that you need an alignment.

What’s the cost?

Like any other battle, this one has its casualties. Uneven tread wear is one of the most common, and easiest to check. Just give each tire a look-over to see if one side is a bit more worn than the other. You might even find some tread damage. Avoiding that damage is one of the reasons you want to catch misalignment early.

The longer the war between your tires goes on, the worse the damage gets. A little uneven wear becomes a bald patch, which could then become a tear. The tire will have to be replaced at the bald patch stage, and one good tire costs more than a four-wheel alignment.

There is also a cost to your safety. The back and forth between your wheels and the wear on your tires can make your car more difficult to control, especially on wet roads and in dangerous driving situations.

What are the benefits?

In addition to being safer, getting the maximum mileage out of your tires, easier steering and a smoother ride, properly aligned tires also deliver better gas mileage. 

If you’re still not sure if your wheels are out of alignment or not, give us a ring. We will be happy to conduct a free alignment inspection any time during regular store hours, and we include one with every oil change. Oh, and if you are in the habit of towing adult male elephants, please make sure all four feet are securely in the trailer before you start to drive.

Our Community

Changing Lives, Four Wheels At A Time

A lack of transportation can bring someone’s life to a halt. 

It limits access to food and services, makes it difficult to get to work and to get children to school on time. It can isolate a person from family and friends. It can turn your daily commute into a miles-long walk, in every kind of weather.

Wheels4Hope is a faith-based organization that provides people in need of transportation with used, reliable cars at an affordable price. 

wheels for hope

How it works

They start with donated cars that usually have a retail value of between $2,000 and $4,000. These cars can be in any condition, so staff mechanics and volunteers assess the vehicles to determine the repairs that must be completed. 

Once the vehicles have been assessed and repaired, they are sold to people who have been referred to the program by Wheels4Hope’s partner agencies. The price is always $500.

With the help of many organizations and community members, Wheels4Hope has provided reliable vehicles to more than 3,000 people in our area.

A community partnership

As part of our contribution to our community, Chapel Hill Tire donates the labor required to make donated cars safe and reliable. We are grateful to be able to contribute to their work, and to be able to provide reliable transportation to people who need it.

They have been a partner for over ten years and will never turn down a repair that we send to them,” said Lisa Brusca, the Executive Director of Wheels4Hope. “We typically have a car at every one of their locations at any given time. It’s a huge donation and we couldn’t do what we do without them.”

You can find out more about Wheels4Hope at their website [https://wheels4hope.org/], including how to donate a vehicle and how to help cover the cost of parts.