— Founded in 1958 —
Saab Tire & Automotive Leadership Team
Charles E. Saab, Jr.
President, ASE Tech, Tire Service
Things That Set Us Apart From The Ordinary
- Individualized attention. We know our customers on a personal basis and their vehicles from bumper to bumper.
- Complete fleet service. We service your entire vehicle, not just part of it.
- Computerized Point-of-Sale. We have on-line, detailed service histories for all vehicles that we service. These service histories are available to the service writers, technicians, and our customers at the touch of a key.
- All our technicians are all long time employees who keep up with the changing automotive industry.
- Our relationship with our employees, average length of employment is 10 years, is equal to the relationship we have with our customers.
- We accept cash, checks, and all major credit cards.
- We have 24 service bays, a very comfortable customer lounge with T.V., museum, and FREE wireless internet.
- Servicing your vehicle on a regular basis is an effective hedge against unnecessary expense and is a proven alternative to repair. Periodic vehicle inspection and maintenance not only saves lives, it also saves you time and money.
Thank you for your interest in Saab Tire & Automotive. We are a one-location, family-owned and operated firm located just east of the downtown Birmingham financial district. Founded by Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Saab, Sr. in 1958, the Saab team is proud of the excellent business relationships maintained throughout the years with our customers, suppliers and employees. Saab Tire & Automotive has grown and survived due to hard work, adaptation to changing markets and trends, and understanding that good business is based on trust between the merchant and the consumer.
Mr. Saab (nicknamed “Porky” from his professional fighting days) was born the ninth of 12 children in East Thomas, Alabama (near Pratt City in northwest Birmingham) on September 18, 1915. When he was 13, his father died leaving his family with little to live on just before the start of the Great Depression. At that time, Porky delivered newspapers and spent time at the Boys Club when one day a gentleman named Dave Evans spotted him and introduced him to boxing.
For the next seven years, from age 13 to age 20, Porky made a living as a professional boxer, called a “prize-fighter” in those day). He fought in over 140 professional fights and rose to be the fourth ranked Welterweight in the world. He retired from the sport and lived in Washington, DC until the advent of World War II, when he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. After the war, he returned to Birmingham and opened a small grocery store on Southside at 6th Avenue South and 32nd Street. After a few years in the grocery business, Porky and Louis David started Surplus Tire Sales at 1029 1st Avenue, North. Mr. David bought out Porky’s share of the business after a year and a half. He then went to work for another old Birmingham tire company, Southern Rubber. Not being able to make enough money to support his young family, Mrs. Saab encouraged him to start a tire company of his own. So with $500, an old pickup truck, a screwdriver and a hand-spreader to inspect the inside of used tires, Saab Tire Company was born in 1958.
The original Saab Tire Company was located behind the old 7-UP bottling plant on 3rd Avenue, West, on a 50′ by 50′ rented hole-in-the-wall. Within a year, Porky relocated to an old building behind Cash & Carry Building Supply at 8th Avenue (now the location of the new social security building), North and 13th Street. In 1961, purchased the old ACME oil company lot and buildings on the western half of the present location at 3000 5th Avenue, North (now known as Messer-Airport Highway).
Times after the war were difficult, and new tires were expensive and hard to come by. Porky started out primarily as a wholesale casing supplier to large retreaders in the Southeast, but as new tires became more plentiful and economical in the 1960s, the product emphasis moved towards high-quality “Blue Ribbon” used tires. Saab was still mainly a wholesaler, but Porky became known for giving such good deals that he was developed a large retail customer base without even trying to do so.
During the early 1970s, the domestic tire market began to change rapidly. The “Blue Ribbon” used tire was replaced by the “new car factory take-off” or “changeover.” With the early manufacturing problems associated with radial tires, there ensued a large supply of major brand domestic “takeoffs” and “blemished” tires. Porky was able to provide 100 percent tread depth radial tires to his customers at a fraction of the new cost and did so at the rate of two trailer loads per month. Porky was able to conduct business this way on a wholesale or cash and carry basis. At this point, Saab Tire Company had still not even mounted or balanced its first tire.
In December of 1973, Charles E. Saab, Jr. joined the family business. Saab began selling more and more new tires, primarily major domestic brands and one private label, Delta. Under his guidance, the tire company invested in a Coats 20/20 tire mounting machine, a Bada bubble balancer, a Walker floor jack and a 4-way lug nut wrench. Saab then began to install their tires outside in three bays lined off in the parking lot.
Major growth occurred in 1977 when the present 10,000 square foot warehouse and sales office facility was built, along with an 8-bay 2,500 square foot tire service center. As customers’ needs and expectations grew, so did tire service response. Saab began offering steering and suspension work and began doing wheel alignments in yet another 4-bay, 2,500 square foot expansion in 1981.
The Saab team used the sale motto of “All Major Brands” and was confident that Saab could acquire any kind of tire requested by customers. In 1980, Saab became the Birmingham area distributor for Eldorado Tire Company. This relationship allowed Saab to offer great pricing on a broad mass-market appeal tire that was manufactured by Cooper Tire & Rubber Company.
During the 1980s, business survival was the name of the game for independent tire dealers. Competition from national chain stores, mass merchandisers and price clubs grew, and professional and personalized service ensured customer loyalty to small tire service stores. The concept of complete automotive service to fleet vehicles for businesses looked promising, but the demands were high. Fleet customers needed quick service, so invoicing and billing needs became exceedingly more complex. Automobiles and light trucks also became increasingly more sophisticated. To meet demands, Saab installed a sophisticated point-of-sale fully interfaced computerized accounting system in 1986, strongly emphasized NIASE (National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence) certification of technicians and continued to upgrade and modernize equipment.
In 1990, Saab negotiated a long-term lease on the western half block of its present location and added a six-bay dedicated brake shop and a three-bay dedicated quick oil change. It only seemed natural to change the name to “Saab Tire & Quick Oil Change.”
Mr. Charles E. Saab, Sr. passed away in 1992 after a 10-year battle against Alzheimer’s disease. Charles E. Saab, Jr. became president of the company, and with the help of his wife, added four more service bays in 1998 with a total number of 24, which made Saab one of the largest independent automotive repair facilities in the state. The company began conducting business as “Saab Tire & Automotive” and now has 10 ASE certified technicians. The team continues to study, train and adapt to the ever-changing automotive repair trends and technology.
Although no single area of service can be said to be unimportant, it was the tire that initially got Saab rolling. The tire is where the vehicle meets the road and it needs to be understood and cared for by someone who understands this relationship. Saab Tire & Automotive is dedicated to the future of the company, its customers, employees and suppliers.
The 21st century has presented a host of new challenges and opportunities to the automotive service industry. In our business, if you do not continue to re-invent yourself, you risk falling behind of the competition and missing industry trends.
The government has mandated many changes in the tire and automotive industry by enacting new safety standards. Tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), traction control systems, (TCS), anti-lock brake systems (ABS), engine performance, fuel economy and lower emissions are all manifestations of these changes. Every car and light truck offers constant reminders to whether these systems are working, and Saab Tire & Automotive mechanics are properly trained and ready to solve problems that arise. Over one million dollars has been invested in state-of-the-art diagnostic and repair equipment to service and repair the most advanced automotive problems. With Saab Tire & Automotive, you no longer have to take your vehicle to the dealer, because you can count on us.
Saab Tire & Automotive is proud to have Ronnie Leverett, ASE Advanced Level Master Technician, as Head Technician. Fourteen additional trained technicians lead the tire, steering and suspension, brake and oil change and under hood repair departments.