After nearly three decades, Les Schwab Tire Center again has a presence in Philomath with the transfer of ownership from Beggs Tire & Wheel to the tire retail chain occurring late last week.
Former owner Luke Beggs worked his final day on Jan.13 with Les Schwab officially taking control the following day. Signage went up and service to the public opened this week at the center, which is located at 838 Main St.
Les Schwab’s Rob Nielsen, manager at the Philomath location, said the company has wanted to make a move into Philomath for some time.
“Philomath has been on the map for quite a while,” Nielsen said. “When we heard of this opportunity with Luke possibly retiring, (we felt) it was just a perfect location.”
Arnold Beggs opened the tire center in the early 1980s and it operated as a Les Schwab affiliate until 1994. According to a news account, Beggs ended the relationship because Les Schwab did not approve of his plans to open a second store.
Les Schwab services vehicles on tires, brakes, shocks and struts, alignments and suspension. Schwab started his company in 1952 and it has grown into hundreds of shops with locations in Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. In this area, there are two locations in Corvallis, one in Albany, one in Junction City and one in Lebanon in addition to the Philomath store.
Beggs Tire & Wheel continues to operate a service center in Albany.
“He’s done a great job here and I’ve got big shoes to fill … we’re looking forward to it,” Nielsen said about Luke Beggs. “He’s been awesome the whole way through this process.”
Nielsen said the business retained “just about everybody except for a few and that was by their choice.” The tire service center currently employs 11 people.
An old gas station, located in front of the garage entrances closer to Main Street, will soon be removed.
Nielsen said the company sees huge potential at the Philomath shop.
“The building’s going to get updated, the parking is going to get updated, the backlot is going to get updated,” Nielsen said. “We’ve got lots of plans for it and they’re in the works on that. I’m not necessarily in that group but I know we’re going to get a whole new showroom and parking lot for sure.”
For the most part, Les Schwab locations have a similar look.
“We do have more of a model of what we want all of the stores to be but some cities, some counties are different for what they allow (visually),” Nielsen said. “So we try to find that happy medium and try to look the same when possible. I know they’re doing a timber town kind of thing here and I know the company is in negotiations to figure that out.”
Nielsen has been with Les Schwab for 22 years and is new to Philomath.
“I started at Bonney Lake, Washington, as a part-timer in high school and was promoted to assistant manager in Carmichael, California,” Nielsen said. “From there, I lateraled to assistant manager in Aloha and I was in Aloha for 10 years. And that brings me to Philomath for the next chapter.”
Added Nielsen, “I’m just trying to take it all in and we’re just ready to help the community out there in any way we can.”