Business & economy

Newlyweds open tire store in Ontario

ONTARIO – A new tire business in Ontario held its grand opening on Saturday, Nov. 11.

I84 Kustom Wheels and Tires is at 267 S.E. 3rd St.

The family-friendly event featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony with free hotdogs, hamburgers, and a raffle.

Owned by newlyweds Georgina De La Cruz, 24, and Alberto Gonzalez, 26, the business started as a “side hustle,” according to De La Cruz.

De La Cruz, a real estate agent at Victory Lap Real Estate, said Gonzalez started doing suspension work and installing lift kits for friends and family about three years ago while working full-time at Simplot Grower Solutions. Soon, De La Cruz said, Gonzalez was booked out for months.

By mid-summer, the young couple looked for a shop and moved into their Ontario location in August, she said. Since then, she said, Gonzalez has been working on vehicle suspensions. The business will sell tires and custom wheels.

De La Cruz said they had not considered selling wheels and tires and it took some time to track down product, equipment, and tools. Also, she said, given that working with wheels and tires was a new venture for them, the couple hired an experienced technician to install the tires.

In addition to wheels and tires for all seasons, the business will offer suspension work, lift and drop kit installations and fabricate customized suspensions.

The shop will be open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

De La Cruz, a self-described risk taker, said she and Gonzalez felt now was time to get into business while they are still young and don’t have kids.

“If we don’t do it, we’ll look back and say, ‘why didn’t we ever get started?’ At this age, we have no kids. We have the time,” she said.

She said the endeavor has been good for their marriage, too. Before, she said, when Gonzalez was working at Simplot and doing suspension work on the side, the two never saw one another. Now, she said, they are working as a team to run the shop.

“It’s just working out way better,” she said. “We have more free time. We get to enjoy what we want and what we like as far as work and be more independent.”

She said once the business gets going, she would go to part time as a real estate agent.

Another motivation for the couple was to provide the community a bilingual wheels and tire shop, she said.

De La Cruz and Gonzalez, whose parents emigrated from Mexico, said there are few Spanish-speaking staff at the bigger tire shops around Ontario.

De La Cruz said she and Gonzalez know this because when they’ve gone to get tires themselves at one of the big box retailers, inevitably, a Spanish speaker would approach them to translate, which, she said, is overwhelming for Hispanic folks who don’t speak English.

“We come from farm-working families,” she said. “That’s something that also motivates us even more.”

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