Russ: Welcome back to The BusinessMakers Show, my guest now Duke Amos, practicing lawyer and also now Founder and CEO of En Route Mobile Tire Service Company; Duke, welcome to The BusinessMakers Show.
Duke: Thank you for having me on the show.
Russ: You bet. So man, I don’t know where we start other than you have two day jobs right now, is that right?
Duke: Yes, yes. I just actually got out of court literally probably about 30 minutes ago, so…
Russ: Okay; okay, so you are practicing although you really got on my radar because of En Route Mobile Tire Service Company.
Duke: Yes sir.
Russ: What gives there? Man, a lot of people aspire to be a lawyer and once they got there would never look back but you’re looking two ways now, right?
Duke: Well yeah, it was the same type of thing. I went to school, I’m a second generation attorney, so my dad practices law in Louisiana and from there I moved to Houston, Texas and started practicing law out here. And it was kind of one of those things where I knew that I wanted another form of income but at the same time I always had this whole entrepreneurship that I wanted to do.
Duke: So I saw the business model and at the time, you know, I had my savings and I had a little bit more money that I had built up over time and it was either hey, keep this money just sitting in a savings account and let it build up or go after your dreams; and so that’s the option that I chose was to go after my dreams and so now here I am and I have the En Route Mobile Tire Service Business.
Russ: Ok, tell us about En Route Mobile Tire Service.
Duke: En Route Mobile Tire Service is a tire shop that comes to you. So instead of you having to go to your traditional tire shop and wait in there for 2 or 3 hours, take off vacation time, use days off, we actually bring the tire service to your home or even at work. Parking garage, personal garage; any flat surface we can service your tires.
Russ: Meaning by service, I mean, can – you can change tires, you can fix flats; you can do all that stuff – when I look in those tire shops though the equipment they have is huge, massive and looks expensive.
Duke: Well we’ve designed these state of the art vans that have all of the equipment in there. You have your tire changer, you have your tire balancer, so we can do anything that a traditional tire shop can do; we even offer the same warranties that tire ships offer. So we can repair tires, we can change all four of your tires, we can balance them out; we can do anything that you like.
Russ: Okay, and do you actually keep tires in inventory and bring them out?
Duke: Yes, we have a few tires that we keep in inventory that are just the regular sizes that people common call on, but any specialty tires we do have to order; so we do keep them in inventory but a lot of the tires are usually unusual sizes, um, so our clients do call and ask us to request certain just weird tires and so we have to get those tires from our distributors.
Russ: I understand. So what’s the status of the company? How long has it been in business?
Duke: The company has been in business for about 6 months now and it’s really growing; it’s taken off; people are enjoying the business model. We actually have a contract with TireRack as well, which is an ecommerce website, but they don’t install tires so we can become your recommended installer through that particular website.
Russ: My goodness. Okay, well here’s the key question, I ran a similar business one time as a secondary business that involved lots of manual labor; do you ever change any tires yourself?
Duke: I’ve had to get on it; I have.
Russ: It’s good for you.
Duke: You know, traditionally because it is a new business I like to go out onsite and greet the customers and see exactly, you know, what their needs are, so every now and then I did become a –I also became certified to change out tires by the Tire Industry Association and so I do know how to perform tire changes and I’ve done them before. Am I out there every single day of the week? No, I’m not but you can find me on Saturdays typically changing tires.
Russ: Okay, fantastic; that’s good. So how many people do you have working for you right now?
Duke: Right now we have one employee, he’s a certified technician as well, but as we grow we’re going to continue to hire on technicians and have a whole lot more vans that’ll just – you’ll see them riding around locally everywhere.
Russ: So that’s an interesting entrée to my next question which is how do you see this company 4 or 5 years from now?
Duke: I plan on – of course I want to keep the service and the quality of the service really great we’re customer-oriented so that’s our first thing; in the tire industry you have to be customer-oriented because there’s so many different tire shops. So we do see ourselves scaling up but scaling up slowly; plan on hitting Houston, eventually – you know, having a bunch of trucks running in Houston and once the business model is mapped out we’re going to spread; we’re going to take over the nation, that’s the plan.
Russ: All right, taking over the nation. Well I’m real curious though, what triggered the idea to start this kind of business?
Duke: This type of business actually was something, as a professional, I had a need where I couldn’t miss court, I couldn’t miss hearings; I had, you know, times where I had to be at appointments and those were things that I just couldn’t miss. So I couldn’t sacrifice even that 2 hour ordeal having to go to a tire shop, negotiating with the tire ship salesman and having to wait. Every now and then it would be maybe 3 or 4 hours before they can get in your vehicle or you have to get a loaner; I just couldn’t sacrifice that. So I thought about the business model and I was like there has to be some type of a way for me to be able to get this is in. And so I actually saw the business model overseas and so I picked it up from there. And their business model is a little bit different, but I wanted it to be similar to what Safelite is; and, you know, Safelite, they come out and they change the windshield.
And so I said, you know, this can happen and so eventually I had no idea how to design the vans but everything over time, it took me almost 2 years to really put everything together; I was able to build these custom vans and now we have a great service.
Russ: Cool; it kind of sounds like another step in this whole mobilization/Uberization thing that we’re doing nowadays.
Duke: Exactly, and that’s the ultimate goal. Nowadays, you know, in this – in this particular day and age people want things that come to them. You have food that comes to you, you have Waiter, you have Uber; you have all of these services that they bring whatever it is that you want to you. I think even nowadays you can get your groceries and they’ll bring it to you. There’s an app for everything literally. We want to become like that, just in the tire industry, which is a really old industry and there’s no change in it so we’re going to come in there, shake them up a little bit and let them know, you know, En Route is here to stay.
Russ: All right, and at the same time you’re going to continue practicing law?
Duke: I’m going to continue practicing law because I do have a passion as a litigator. I love – I love the practice of law. If the business model takes off enough of course I’ll sit back and I’ll hire somebody to take over the management of the company, but as you know, any type of ground roots, you know, business that you have at the beginning you have to bootstrap it so you have to do everything yourself. So I’ll continue to balance both of them as long as I can, not sacrificing anything, you know, for my clients but until then I’m just going to continue to practice law and be the Manager of En Route.
Russ: I love the spirit. Okay, so say somebody’s watching, they say man I want to know how to get in touch with En Route Mobile Tire Service; how do they do that?
Duke: There’s different ways. The easiest way I definitely – we have a great website, I want you guys to check us out on En Route, www.enroutetire.com.
Russ: And En Route is E – N – R – O – U – T – E?
Russ: .com? Okay.
Duke: And then you can also call us at 888-98-TIRES.
Russ: Okay. Well Duke I really appreciate you sharing your story and I wish you good luck.
Duke: Thank you.
Russ: You bet. And that wraps up my discussion with Duke Amos, practicing lawyer and also CEO of En Route Mobile Tire Service. And this is The BusinessMakers Show.
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