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Rollin’ with Les: The Story of Schwab!

Les Schwab is a tireless legend that has left an enduring impact on the tire industry. As the founder of Les Schwab Tires, he revolutionized the tire service industry with his customer-first approach, creating a business culture like no other. Les Schwab’s story is one of hard work, innovation, and an unwavering commitment to quality service. In this article, we will delve into the life and achievements of Les Schwab, exploring how he built his tire empire and how his legacy continues to inspire generations.

Meet Les Schwab: A Tireless Legend

Leslie Bishop Schwab was born on October 3, 1917, in a small town in Oregon. He grew up during the Great Depression and had to work hard to help his family survive. From an early age, Les showed an entrepreneurial spirit, selling newspapers, milk, and delivering groceries door-to-door. He also had a love for cars and mechanics, which led him to work in a tire shop after high school.

Born to Roll: The Early Days of Schwab

Les Schwab’s tire career began in 1946 when he opened his first tire store in Prineville, Oregon, with a $1,500 loan from his father-in-law. He worked long hours, seven days a week, and his customers appreciated his honesty, hard work and commitment to quality. In the early days, Les would travel to farms and ranches to repair tires, often working late into the night to get his customers back on the road.

Taking Over: The Rise of Les Schwab Tires

Les Schwab’s reputation for excellent customer service spread, and he soon expanded his business to nearby towns. In 1952, he opened a second store in Redmond, Oregon, and by 1956, he had five stores. Les was a tireless worker, often arriving at the stores before dawn and staying until long after closing time. His dedication and passion for the tire industry were evident in his tireless work ethic, and soon, his tire empire began to grow.

The Les Schwab Way: Customer First, Always

Les Schwab’s commitment to customer service was the foundation of his business. He believed that the customer always came first, and his tire stores were designed to provide customers with the best possible service. Les Schwab Tires’ employees were trained to go above and beyond to meet customers’ needs, and each store had a motto: "If we can’t guarantee it, we won’t sell it." This approach to customer service set Les Schwab Tires apart from its competitors and became a hallmark of the company’s success.

Revolutionizing Tire Service: A Schwab Story

Les Schwab was an innovator in the tire industry, constantly looking for ways to improve his business and offer his customers better service. In the late 1960s, he introduced a new tire service that allowed drivers to have their tires replaced on the spot, without an appointment. This innovation revolutionized the tire industry and became a standard practice in the industry.

From One Store to Many: The Schwab Empire

Les Schwab Tires continued to grow over the years, with more and more stores opening throughout the western United States. By the time Les Schwab retired in 1999, there were over 400 Les Schwab Tire Centers in 10 states, employing over 7,000 people. Les Schwab’s tire empire had become a household name, synonymous with quality, honesty, and excellent customer service.

Giving Back to Communities: Schwab’s Legacy

Les Schwab believed in giving back to the communities that had supported his business, and his company was known for its philanthropic efforts. Les Schwab Tires donated to local charities, sponsored community events, and supported youth programs. Les Schwab’s legacy of community involvement and philanthropy continues to inspire the company’s employees to this day.

The Schwab Spirit: A Company Culture Like No Other

Les Schwab created a unique company culture, one that valued hard work, dedication, and a commitment to quality service. He believed that every employee was important and encouraged them to do their best. This company culture has continued to this day, with Les Schwab Tire Centers consistently ranked as one of the best places to work in the United States.

Rollin’ On: Les Schwab’s Enduring Impact

Les Schwab passed away in 2007, but his legacy lives on. His commitment to customer service, innovation, and community involvement has inspired generations of tire industry professionals. Les Schwab Tires continue to provide excellent service to their customers, and the company’s dedication to quality and excellence has made it a leader in the tire industry.

Honoring the Legend: Remembering Les Schwab

Les Schwab was a tireless legend, a man who built an empire and a reputation for quality and service. His legacy continues to inspire tire professionals and entrepreneurs around the world. As we remember Les Schwab, we celebrate his achievements, his dedication to customer service, and his commitment to the communities he served.

In conclusion, Les Schwab’s story is one of hard work, innovation, and a commitment to quality service. He built an empire that became a household name, and his legacy continues to inspire generations. Les Schwab Tires’ customer-first approach, commitment to community involvement and philanthropy, and unique company culture have made it a leader in the tire industry. Les Schwab’s impact on the tire industry will always be remembered, and his tireless spirit will continue to roll on.


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