takes outside shot with Evans Tires
Company's chief executive officer takes on titans
CEO: John Andonian
ESCONDIDO - In the scramble and scrap of schoolyard basketball, quickness and drive can nullify the advantages of size and height - a good thing for someone like John Andonian, who stood 5 feet 5 inches tall when he played guard for Hoover High in Los Angeles in the early 1970s.
Then as now, what he
lacked in height he
made up with desire.
"I had some basic talents and then my ambition to win," Andonian, chief executive officer of Evans Tire Co., said by phone recently.
"My strength was my quickness and my defense.
I (also) had a good outside shot.
More than 30 years later, Andonian
still prefers the David role to that of Goliath.
Defying the odds and tire industry giants such as Costco
has grown revenues at Evans
from $9 million to $22 million in six years.
A family-run business based in Escondido, the company's fortunes were sagging when Andonian
took the helm.
was, in effect, buying the nine-store chain from himself, as Evans
was owned by AKH Discount Tires, which was run by Andonian
The franchise was a fixer-upper.
"Even though we had been in the market for almost 20 years, the name identity was very low," he
found the stores in need of remodeling and the work force in need of motivating.
made other changes, too -- such as a bold new purple and yellow color scheme for the stores, which now number 16, and a higher marketing profile in print and radio.
needed more to draw attention to itself in the competitive San Diego market.
realized that it couldn't just be price.
"If it's just about price, you've got the Wal-Marts of the world and the Costcos, and you just can't compete with them," he
The differentiator, he
saw, was customer service, or "value-added programs.
offers free alignment on purchases of selected tire brands, as well as free tickets to such places as the San Diego Zoo or Legoland California.
In recent years, the tire business has changed, he
said, with customer demand
pushing auto companies to offer more tire options for their cars.
"Ten to 15 years ago, 20 tire sizes hypothetically covered 60 percent of the market," Andonian
"Now, you need maybe 40 or 50 sizes to cover 40 percent of the market.
Some things haven't changed.
is still very much a family enterprise.
, married 20 years to his
wife, Cynthia, says all three of their children have shown an interest in working in the business -- particularly his
son Alex, 20, who attends Southern Methodist University
in Dallas: "My theory is go to school.
Go work somewhere for a couple years -- then let's talk about it.
It's an attitude Andonian's parents would recognize and respect.
"My parents wanted more for their kids," said Andonian
, whose Armenian family immigrated to the United States in 1969.
has thrived and prospered on the slopes of uphill battles.
said stepping in to run an already-successful company wouldn't be the same.
"Keeping the status quo would be OK," Andonian