Rolling Along

Sharron Weber just celebrated the 40th anniversary of her Tire Warehouse store in Lihue, where her staff of 15 services about 1,000 vehicles each month. Call this former surfing champion the woman who puts the rubber on the road

Sharron Weber has good reason to celebrate. Not only did she just turn 67 years old, but Sept. 4 also marked the 40th anniversary of her business Tire Warehouse.

“Life is good,” she says at her busy office in Lihue.

What’s her secret to such long-term business success?

“If you want anything done, you have to do it yourself,” she declares.

Right before chatting with Midweek Kauai, Weber was delivering tires to a customer, accompanied of course by her two best friends, golden retrievers Pua and Hoku. She says she doesn’t mind the work at an age where most people are retired, or at least contemplating it.

“I’m not there yet,” she says, adding that she will keep working “as long as I’m physically able.”

Being so hands-on is one of the things she credits for her business success. Another quality that sets her business apart is her employees’ ability to positively connect with customers.

“We have very good customer service,” says Weber.

When clients purchase tires, such as Goodyear, Michelin and BFGoodrich brands, Tire Warehouse offers free services, including fixing flats and tire rotation.

Though Weber estimates that half of the island regularly comes to see her, she admits it wasn’t always so busy. In fact, when she started the business in 1974, it was “extremely” slow. She quickly remedied the situation, however, at football games by placing notes on people’s cars that needed new tires. It worked, and within a year business began to pick up.

“When we first started, you could count on your hands the number of cars that came in ,” recalls Weber. “Now we can’t even count.”

Tire Warehouse, which is filled to the brim with every kind of tire imaginable, services about 1,000 vehicles a month and has a staff of 15 full-time employees, including Weber’s brother George.

Though she is known around town because of her longtime tire business, before it opened Weber was a well-known professional surfer. She started riding waves when she was 15, when her family moved from California to Oahu, where her father was stationed in the Air Force.

“When you ride a skate-board, the next thing is surfing,” she explains. Weber won her first surf competition before age 16, and proceeded to win the state championship at Ala Moana five years in a row.

She won the world championship four times.

“I was just an amateur,” the former pro humbly says.

Her talent was a natural gift; Weber never had to practice, but she spent all her free time in the ocean.

“I’m just a lucky girl,” she says.

In 1974, at age 26, Weber was invited to defend her world title in South Africa, but she declined because of South Africa’s apartheid policy — her Hawaiian teammates could not compete, so she refused to go.

Instead, she bought a $25 ticket to Kauai — as she puts it, “for Pakalas and Hanalei.”

Weber is grateful for her experiences as a surfer and she attributes her business to that talent. On Oahu, she taught surfing to three boys — Andy, Randy and Jimmy Friend — whom she still sees on occasion.

“They are why I’m in the tire business,” she reveals.

It was their father Harold, who gave her a job at his tire business (Import Tire and Sales) in Honolulu. It was a rocky start for Weber, however. After one week, she wanted to quit because she missed the waves.

“I was missing surfing, and all my friends were wondering where I was,” she explains. “They thought I was crazy when I told them I got a job.”

But he wouldn’t let her quit.

“He said, ‘You gotta stick with it,'” recalls Weber.

He made a compromise by giving her a van to make tire deliveries around the island, which allowed her to surf between appointments.

Her life has come full circle since then, and Weber still delivers tires to happy customers while catching waves in her rare spare moments (though her preferred hobby of choice now is golfing).

Weber also is an active part of the community and has been a member of several organizations throughout the years, including Kelepa Sunrise Rotary and Chamber of Commerce. But the Radford High School graduate’s main motivation is what she loves most: running her business well and serving kamaaina.

“We help people every day,” she says.