Les Schwab is Inland Empire’s Newest Neighbor

For more than a century, the mountains, valleys and deserts to the east of Los Angeles have made up an area known as the Inland Empire. It includes large cities, like Riverside, and tiny towns, like Radec. It offers access to an enviable range of environments: Sports enthusiasts boast that they can ski Bear Mountain in the morning and surf Zuma Beach in the afternoon.

John Robertson, the southern regional manager for California and Nevada, is a big fan, especially now that Les Schwab Tire Centers has staked out territory in the area. For those unfamiliar with the Inland Empire, Robertson shares what he’s learned as he has helped establish the five crews who will be settling into the newly built stores.

Q: How did the opening of the first Inland Empire store in Temecula go?
A: We welcomed customer No. 1 before we even opened: A member of the Temecula Chamber of Commerce had requested a brand new set of tires and we were more than happy to install them for her. We appreciated her support!

We’ll host a grand opening celebration for Temecula later this summer and begin our support for the community by inviting cheerleaders, mascots and Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps groups from area high schools to participate.

Q: What was the community’s response to having a Les Schwab Tire Center in town?
A: Temecula residents, who knew about Les Schwab maybe because they’d relocated from one of our long-time markets in Oregon or Washington — told us how excited they were to have their own Les Schwab store "this far south." People who’d had no previous experience with Les Schwab told us they were "blown away" by the employees who ran out to the parking lot to greet them.

We also got a lot of positive feedback about the state-of-the-art building and especially the second, quieter waiting room where people can hook up a laptop if they need to get some work done while they wait.

Q: How were the stores staffed?
A: The management teams were very excited about pioneering a new market for Les Schwab and, let’s face it, about enjoying the sunny climate in Southern California. Selection was very competitive, and it included both managers for whom the store will be their first time running their own place as well as an assistant manager and manager with a combined 39 years of experience, who applied to transfer as a team. So we’re glad to have a mix of old hands and new blood serving our new neighbors.

Each of the stores will also employ between 12 and 15 crew members chosen from a pool of local applicants.

Q: How would you characterize the Inland Empire?
A: The residents are definitely our kind of people —they say hello and hold the door open for you. They’ve made us feel very welcome, telling us they’re glad to have a "neighborhood" Les Schwab Tire Center. I think we’ll fit in very well, and I’m happy we’ll be able to return the favor with a level of service that sets the standard in our industry.

Q: What’s up next?
A: By the end of July, we opened up three more stores in Perris, Moreno Valley and Fontana. With approximately 4 million residents, the Inland Empire could be one of Les Schwab’s biggest areas of growth, so we could see 12 to 15 stores serving the area by the end of 2017.

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