Emily Buckley, editor in chief
Discount Tire on Logan’s Main Street has been part of the cityscape of our community for 45 years, leading the way not only in the tire industry, but also in community service. Larry Nicholls and his wife Vickie opened the store during the nation’s bicentennial celebration, on July 7, 1976, when Logan’s population sat at about 25,000 residents.
“We would have opened on the Fourth, but it was a Sunday,” Larry remembers.
In the near half-century since that grand opening, Larry says the building has been through eight remodels, including one this year. This willingness to change and always be planning and preparing for the future is the name of the game for Larry, and his daughter, Christie Stock, who now serves as president of the company.
“Dad is a visionary,” Christie said. “He travels the world looking at business concepts in and out of the tire industry and then brings those ideas home to improve our way of doing business.”
One example of their forward-thinking mentality served them well during 2020’s COVID shutdown: Ten years prior to the unthinkable closures and distancing that were required last year, Discount Tire led the industry in “touchless service.” They had invented an app allowing customers to shop for tires, schedule appointments, and bring their vehicles to be serviced without ever entering the store, a concept that had not been used in tire sales prior to their development.
“It was a blessing to have that technology in place,” Christie said. “Our customers were used to it and it put us in a good position when COVID-19 hit.”
Larry grew up in Garden City. Before he opened Discount Tires and Automotive locally, he worked for a major tire manufacturer for 14 years, moving his family 13 times, and overseeing 500 stores nationwide.
“At one point, I was traveling 5-7 days a week,” Larry said. “I ended up in Southern California and the kids were getting to an age that I wasn’t sure that was where I wanted to raise them; so, we came back home and built our first store in Logan.”
In the years that followed, Larry worked side-by-side with Vickie, who passed away in 2013, to build company-owned retail stores in Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming, and at one time had nearly 1,200 franchised locations nationwide. In 2006 they sold the distribution business and Larry “tried to retire,” he said.
Christie took over as president of the company at that time, and Larry jokes that he is now a low-level advisor — he even made a business card with his title on it — but Christie is quick to refuse that, saying Larry is the true leader of the organization.
“I love working with my dad every day,” Christie said. “He is my mentor and has the amazing gift of making everyone want to be the best version of themselves. He has so much vision; he is always looking ahead.”
Christie said both of Larry’s parents, her grandparents, died by the time Larry was five years old. “He has created his own legacy,” she said. “He built this business from the ground up and taught all of us the importance of giving service to others.”
That value, of service, is one Larry has developed in his family and his associates at Discount Tire alike. “Our philosophy is to take care of our people,” Christie said. “We believe if we create happiness for our people — our associates — then they are going to create happiness and deliver it to our customers. The more we spread kindness, the better off we will all be.”
Christie says it is especially rewarding to see people they taught driver’s safety courses to, or who they supported when they were on high school sports teams, come back as adults buying tires for their kids. “We’ve been here, playing a part in the community, for a long time and it is really fun to see it come full circle.”
The company now employs about 200 people, including three generations of family. Christie and her sister, Billie Glabe, are in corporate leadership positions, while Christie’s son, Josh Stock, is the manager of their Providence location and Billie’s son, Tyler, is his assistant manager. They also have a store in Smithfield.
“Doing business in Cache Valley is like family taking care of family,” Christie says. “To provide a service in the place we grew up and raised our kids, to serve our neighbors and friends, is really amazing. This is a community that rallies together during tough times and supports each other. We are proud to be part of it.”
Larry and Christie are still looking ahead, with expansion plans to support the ever-growing Cache Valley community. “It’s hard to say what comes next,” Larry said. “But we’ll be ready for it.”