Over 40 years ago, Myron Boncarosky left Texaco Oil to pursue a dream of opening his own business. Starting with less than a dozen workers at Main Street Shell in Fairfax, spending a decade growing from one full-service station to several – his one-time dream has strategically grown into a 400 – employee chain of 13 Virginia Tire & Auto shops, including six in Loudoun County.
Boncarosky has since stepped aside from the daily operations, letting his daughter, Julie Boncarosky Holmes, and her husband, Mike Holmes, manage what could now be considered one of the most successful small business in the area.
Julie and Mike run Virginia Tire & Auto with the same sense of values and specialized customer service which started the business 41 years prior.
“We know our industry doesn’t always have the best reputation,” said Julie, President of the company, speaking from the headquarters on the third floor of a Fairfax office complex. “We work hard to change that and be a different type of repair business. We follow through with what we say and believe in transparency. We provide a high level of integrity.”
The company has been recognized with numerous awards and honors. Those include being named a Top Shop in North America by industry trade magazine Tire Review, an award for innovation, ethics, and philanthropy from the Washington Business Journal and the Virginia School Boards Association 2017 Business Award. Many recent reviews on Yelp and other social media sites are full of praise. Words such as “great deal,” “honest,” “wonderful” and “fabulous” are not uncommon.
To stay on top of the ever-growing competition, Virginia Tire comes up with distinct services, such as VTA Valet. For $15, a technician will pick up a customer’s vehicle, leave a loaner car and drive it back to the shop to complete the work. When it’s done, an employee will return the car. The transports are fully covered by insurance.
“We know people are really busy and may not have time to take their vehicles to the shop and wait,” Julie said. “This has become a popular service…. We make sure we are meeting the needs of our customers. It’s not just lip service.”
Shops also stay open later, usually until 8 p.m. on weekdays and 6 p.m. on Saturdays. Most are open on Sundays. There are special touches such as free WiFi and kids’ play areas. Many technicians are certified to ensure car seats are properly installed. The company has been affiliated with Goodyear since 1988 and Bridgestone since 2010.
Virginia Tire has been opening shops almost every other year with the last one being in Bristow in July 2016 – when race car legend Mario Andretti signed autographs at the grand opening. Andretti, a family friend of Boncarosky, was also at the opening of their Ashburn location. The shop at One Loudoun was the most recent to open in Loudoun County but perhaps not the last.
With Loudoun’s growth slated for tens of thousands of new residential addresses, metro centers and thousands of new job opportunities through the county’s aggressive economic development efforts, it is possible Loudoun will see several more Virginia Tire & Auto shops in strategic locations.
“We’re continually looking for great sites to open a new location,” Julie said, adding that they plan to focus on the Northern Virginia region, not go into, say, Maryland.
This fall, the company is running a promotion with Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins. For every touchdown he throws in a regular season game, customers get $2 off oil changes the following Tuesday. If he rushes for a touchdown, they get $5 off. Cousins, a longtime customer of the Dulles shop with his conversion van, also appears in radio commercials as well as in-store and print advertising pieces.
With unemployment below 4 percent throughout Northern Virginia – including 3.2 percent in Loudoun – finding qualified employees is a challenge, Julie said. “It does take longer to find a new employee these days, but we don’t compromise on hiring. We find the right people for our shops,” she said.
Employee benefits include health insurance and paid vacations of up to three weeks. Employees continually undergo education and training; the average technician has more than 20 years of experience working on all types of vehicles. More than three-quarters of the staff are certified as “Tire Experts.”
Mike, CEO of Virginia Tire who earned an MBA from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree from Washington & Lee University, previously worked as a CPA at a nationally known accounting firm. Julie, who graduated from Washington & Lee’s business program and Villanova University’s Law School, clerked for the late federal appeals Judge H. Emory Widener Jr. and was an associate in the corporate and real estate departments at Covington & Burling LLP before joining the family business.
Building a brand for over 40 years, the company now often sees multigenerational clients. “We believe we provide an important service – to keep our customers moving,” Julie said. “Their vehicles are very important in their lives. We take that seriously.”