Eighteen years ago Raymond Puente began work at Big O Tires as a general service tire installer. Today, he has a goal to own five Big O stores in the next five years and he knows just how much work it will take to do that.

Recently, Puente took over ownership of the location at 48th Street and Warner Road, at 4832 E. Warner Road. On April 1 the location at Chandler Boulevard and Desert Foothills, 15625 Desert Foothills Parkway, will become a franchise under his ownership.

“It’s been a lot of work to get here,” Puente said. “Some of my guys have been with me for years so it’s something I try to tell all of them. No matter where they are, they can get to where I’m at. I try to use it as an example to motivate them a little. It’s been some hard work and a lot of long hours, but it worked out.”

Puente began work at Big O just three weeks before his son was born. He said at the time he had no intention of staying with the company long term, but he fell in love with the work. He went to school in California to become a mechanic and worked his way up the chain. In 2005, he moved to Arizona and became an area manager over eight corporate stores in Arizona. He was nominated for and took advantage of a program to buy Big O locations. While he was going through the program the store in the Foothills went through five managers in eight months, he said. Now, he’s working to repair the problems left by so much turnover.

“When I left that store I brought my whole crew with me so everyone is new at that store,” Puente said. “We’re bringing some of the old guys back to that store and trying to get back in touch with the community to let them know we’re there to take care of them.”

Puente said it’s a lot easier owning the locations than it was working for corporate. He doesn’t have to travel as far up the ladder to make necessary changes or to reach out to the community the way he wants to. He plans to update the look of the showroom and he has cut some hours at both of his stores, to give his mechanics better schedules.

Puente said he now has a goal to own five stores in the next five years. If he continues to work hard and create an environment of trust, he’s confident he can reach his goal.

For more information on Big O Tires, visit www.bigotires.com.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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