June 2007

Customers Get Small Town Service at Island Tire

Author: Melinda Copp

Every small town has a mom-and-pop car service center that’s been there for years. People know them, trust them, recommend them, and take their cars in for everything from a gas refill to a tire rotation. For Hilton Head Island, that mom-and-pop car shop is Island Tire.

Island Tire started in 1971 as a Shell gas station and convenience store. In 1995, Terry Fowler and two partners bought the business, but kept the name. Then in 2006, Fowler, who grew up in Tennessee, bought out his two partners. Now with two locations (on Palmetto Bay Road on the south end, and on William Hilton Parkway on the north end), the combination gas station and tire centers can do just about anything to keep your car running at peak performance.

“We do everything but body work,” said Fowler. “And if we can’t handle a problem, we can tell the customer who can.”

Fowler got started in the car service business at a very young age, pumping gas at his dad’s Texaco Station forty-two years ago. At nineteen, he was managing his own tire store in Newport, Tennessee.

Terry Fowler, owner of Island Tire

“Basically, the tire business is a good, rewarding business to be in,” said Fowler. “You help people solve their problems and help prevent bigger problems.” Aside from six years serving as a police officer, car service is all Fowler has ever done. He came to the Lowcountry in 1977 when the Kelly Springfield Tire Company moved him to Georgia.

“They put me down here and I’ve been here ever since,” said Fowler, who currently lives in Savannah. “I’ve been associated with Island Tire for twenty-three years.”

Fowler isn’t the only one at Island Tire who’s been around for a while. His senior counter employee has been at Island Tire for 28 years, and several others have been with the company for at least 15 years. And everyone at Island Tire is Automotive Service Excellence certified with at least 10 years experience in the car service business.

“We try to keep the mom-and-pop part of the business in operation so customers always know who they’re dealing with,” said Fowler. “Customers who have been coming here for years still know all the faces, and I’m always available for customers whenever they have an issue.”

These values are why Island Tire has become so trusted and established in the Hilton Head community, and according to Fowler, they work hard to dispel the common stereotype of mechanics taking their customers for a costly ride.

“We try to run a really good business so people, especially female customers, can feel comfortable coming here,” said Fowler. “We strive to do only what’s necessary.”

Island Tire is an American Car Care Center, offering nationwide warranties. They carry all the major tire brands, including Bridgestone, Firestone, Michelin, and BF Goodrich. They recently updated and reopened their gasoline equipment, selling Shell gas. Although the business has stayed relatively the same over the years, Island Tire has kept up with the latest technological advancements. They have the most up-to-date diagnostic equipment and can service the newest cars with tire pressure monitoring systems.

Aside from the latest technology, quality parts, and car repairs, Island Tire customers get personal service and peace of mind from a reputation that has taken years to build.

“This is a landmark on Hilton Head Island,” said Fowler. “And we’re trying to keep that image.”

Island Tire
Palmetto Bay Road

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