You would get bald tyres driving around Hawke’s Bay trying to find someone with more knowledge on tyres than Havelock North Tyre and Alignment owner Greg Nicholson.
The tyre industry runs as deep as new tyre tread in Greg’s life, he and wife Fiona even named their youngest son after Greg’s favourite tyre brand – Cooper.
Greg left school in Morrinsville in 1982 and went straight into the tyre industry with Paramount Tyres, where he started to learn as much as he could about the industry.
After 11 years working for Paramount the business was bought out by a large global brand and Greg decided to set up his own business.
He founded Hawke’s Bay Tyres in Napier in 1993, targeting the truck tyre market with aspirations of setting up a branch network in Hawke’s Bay and then bought the Havelock North tyre service in 2003.
The decision to grow the Havelock North business has been two-fold. Not only has the businesses broadened its services and tyre products with brands such as Cooper, Yokohama, GT Radial and Bridgestone but it has rekindled the feeling of community spirit that Greg liked so much growing up in Morrinsville.
“Morrinsville has a strong sense of community and Havelock has the same appeal. We’ve got to know our customers really well, we have some that come in once a week just to get their tyre pressure checked.”
Since 2003 Greg has set about broadening its customer base which had relied on locals getting replacement tyres for the family car to adding a 24/7 fleet service for the farming and horticulture businesses around the Bay.
“I saw an opportunity to grow the business up, which was starting to move away from its core business and delve into doing warrant of fitnesses. I introduced mobile tyre servicing and concentrated on selling and repairing tyres and left the warrant of fitness and servicing to the garages and instead supplied them with tyres.
Greg also saw a gap in the market to supply tractor tyres to the farming sector and has now built up Hawke’s Bay’s largest stock of new and used tractor tyres with over 200 tyres.
“Being from Morrinsville, I knew a lot about tractor tyres.
“We also moved into tyre welding (vulcanizing), which is pretty unique. As you could expect tractors can get punctures in some pretty difficult situations, so to get out to the tractor we bought a 4-wheel drive vehicle that gets us out to jobs that no others can.”
“Punctures can easily occur while driving through strange paddocks at night. I went out to one farm late at night and the harvester was driving through long grass and hit a water trough, puncturing a tyre.
Today one of Greg’s team of eight, many with over a decade experience, are rostered on every hour of the day to keep Hawke’s Bay food producers moving.
The business has grown and to secure its presence in a fast developing commercial business area, Greg bought the property and expanded its operations.
“We were bulging at the seams. We’ve now been able to bring additional services such as our truck tyre changing machine onsite as well as creating new office space. Health and safety is really important in this industry so it made sense to have more services on-site where there’s always a few of us around.
The tyre centre also does wheel alignment which also enhance the lifespan of tyres.
Greg and his team love the variety of what is driven into the tyre centre. “We can have the Masarati and Porsche come in for a new set of tyres to the second-hand teenager’s car through to a heavy duty truck.
“As an independent tyre dealership, we’re not constrained by what we can recommend, although we’re big fans of Coopers as they are one of the only tyre manufacturers that guarantee milage.”
Greg is a founding member of the National Tyre Assistance, a nationwide group of independent tyre businesses. He says the benefits for customers is that if they have tyre problems anywhere in New Zealand a partner member can come to their aid.
Cooper tyres are guaranteed to last between 50,000 – 80,000km depending on size and tread pattern and subject to normal usage in on and off-road situations.
“The regular care and maintenance of your wheel alignment, brakes, suspension and wheels are crucial to the performance and wear of your tyres; for this reason, you should get your tyres every 10,000km.
“Safety is vital when it comes to driving and it pays to talk to experienced tyre specialists, who know how the rubber hits the road.
GREG’S TOP TYRE TIPS
Greg says a little care and maintenance goes a long way in prolonging the life of your tyres and making sure you get the maximum usage out of each set. Here’s his top tips.
- Ensure your tyres are properly inflated. Keeping your tyres at the right air pressure will help you avoid fast and uneven treadwear, improper vehicle handling and excessive heat build-up.
- Rotate your tyres at the recommended times. Moving your tyres around so that they trade places on your vehicle will ensure that they wear out uniformly.
- Drive in a tyre-friendly manner! You may not realize it, but the way you drive can have a lot to do with how long your tyres will last and how well they perform. Overloading, abrupt braking, rapid acceleration andhard cornering are just some things to avoid.