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Meet Gabriela and Octavio Islas of Islas Tires in Whittier

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gabriela and Octavio Islas.

Islas Tires was founded in 1982 as a sole proprietorship by Secundino Islas, with the help of his brother Luis Islas. Both brothers were first-time immigrants to this country, from Yahualica, Jalisco, Mexico. Secundino, who is known as “Seco” to everyone, first learned about the opportunity to buy the business while driving commercial trucks for his then employer. Little did he know, that the then small tire shop, would one day be his. The original owner was selling the business in the 80’s for $10,000. The brothers knew that this would be a great opportunity for them, but between them, pulling the funds together would be nearly impossible. When Seco told his wife Susana that he was looking to become a business owner, she surprised him by sharing that she had started a savings account before she married him and had just enough to complete the amount needed for the purchase. So she pulled out her life savings and entrusted her husband to make the right decision. Thirty-eight years later, she says it was the best investment she’s ever made!

The shop was originally 1 of approximately 4 or 5 business on the lot. As the years progressed the tire shop expanded, bringing in more inventory and providing more services. Ultimately consuming the entire corner block of Carmenita Rd. and Leffingwell Rd., servicing both consumer and business clients. Today the company is primarily ran by Secundino’s children, Octavio and Gabriela Islas as second-generation Tire Entrepreneurs, Tirepreneurs! The versatility of the small corner tires shop is surprising to all that walk through their doors. Islas Tires patches and/or replaces anything from a wheel barrel tire to a Quinn Cat dump truck tire, and everything else in between.

They are known for their fast and reliable service, with full tire installations being completed within 45 mins to ensure that companies and clients can quickly resume their busy schedules. Hence their motto, “We Keep You Moving!”

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The path that we’ve taken has not been an easy one. As children, we hardly saw our dad, he worked 7 days a week until our mid-teenage years. As adults, we each went to school and after having worked in our said careers, we had to make the decision to leave our careers behind to take over the business. Octavio was a Mechanic for Mercedes-Benz and I was a Special Events Manager with Macy’s. At the time we were both single, no kids, so we figured, let’s give this a whirl and we can always go back to the corporate world if this just isn’t our cup of tea. Turns out, it was more than our cup of tea and we fell in love with the business.

We took on different roles, and our father let us take the reins. Octavio started pursuing customers we never thought we could obtain and service and I started to button up the inside operations of the shop. Competing to gain respect amongst larger corporations and vendors, and not to mention customers who still saw us as “Mom and Pop”. We began by re-branding ourselves within the community amongst hundreds of other tire shops that are mere miles from our location. We started from scratch, and worked with what we had, keeping tight budgets, but always focused on a big vision, and overall lots and lots of patience. More importantly, we have worked really hard to build a team of loyal and long term employees with short-term turnaround.

Islas Tires – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We specialize in service as a Tire Retailer and Installer, with commercial roadside assistance. Selling everything from wheel barrel, trailer, golf cart, solid, and Off-The-Road (OTR) tires, amongst the everyday passenger and light truck business. We particularly have a niche in Business 2 Business, particularly small and medium-sized businesses. Providing them with quality work without the high overhead prices. We provide 24-Hr Commercial Roadside Assistance and can basically get you out of any bind when it comes to tires, you name it, and we have a solution for it. If we don’t, we’ll find one! It is rare that we will let a customer walk out the door feeling like we didn’t make an attempt to fix their problem.

We are most proud of being able to stand behind a company that bears our name. We work day and night so that when people think about the “Islas” name, they associate it with a company that takes care of them. We are proud of the fact that we have had employees work for our company for over 30+ years and have the ability to care for them as if they were family. As siblings, Octavio and I are extremely proud of that we have been able to take over the load and stress of the business off our father’s shoulders, allowing him to slowly, but not completely step away and start enjoying his semi-retired life. It gives him great joy to see us working together, and we get to see each other every day. Some people can’t believe we work so well together as family, but we all have a role and respect the value each of us brings to the table. Had we been working for different companies, we wouldn’t have the incredible memories we will cherish for a lifetime.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
There have been several proud moments including incorporating the company in 2010. Re-vamping our current location, which we still continuously work on. The contracts come and go, the customers come and go based on their needs, so there has never been a moment of “OMG, this customer is going to make or break our business”. More than anything, we get a great sense of humbling accomplishment and satisfaction to walk into a shop that we are proud of and that makes people smile.

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