DOTHAN – Jim Whaley opened his first tire store in 1986 on the Montgomery Highway in Dothan when he was still in his 20s. That first store had five employees. Thirty-three years later, he operates seven stores in five cities and employs more than 90 in Alabama’s Wiregrass.
Whaley, chief executive officer of Dothan-based Jim Whaley Tires Inc., is the 2019 Silver Alabama Retailer of the Year in the Annual Sales More Than $20 Million category. The Alabama Retail Association first honored him in 2002 as a Retailer of the Year, when he had stores in three cities and $4 million in annual sales. “This award is a testimony to how well our employees have grown this company since 2002,” Whaley said today when accepting his latest accolade at the Alabama Retail Day luncheon in Birmingham.
Jim Whaley Tires has three Dothan locations and one each in Ozark, Enterprise, Troy and Eufaula. “We’re serving between 400 and 500 customers daily here in the Wiregrass area,” Whaley said.
“Jim Whaley and Jim Whaley Tires represents the best of Alabama small business in retail – high ethical standards, commitment to community, strong customer service and exceptional product,” said Dean Mitchell, executive director of the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce, which nominated Whaley both in 2002 and in 2019.
The Retailer of the Year judges made note of how Jim Whaley Tires stepped up to help after Hurricane Michael caused catastrophic damage in the Florida Panhandle and lesser, but costly damage to the Dothan area just a year ago.
“Brandon Outlaw, our operations manager, put together a response team of volunteers to help some business friends and acquaintances in Marianna, Florida, which was devastated by the hurricane,” Whaley said. “We were able to go down and spend a day working to help two businesses get back on their feet and help a couple of residential areas clean up as well.” The volunteers from Jim Whaley Tires also “helped out in our own neighborhoods and community here in Dothan,” he added.
In the past year, Whaley Tires bought an existing tire store in Eufaula and added 10,500-square-feet of warehouse space in Dothan. “We’ve had a phenomenal journey of growth,” Whaley said.
Jim Whaley Tires, an Alabama Retail Association member since 2002, was one of 14 Retailers of the Year honored at today’s luncheon. The Alabama Retailer of the Year awards, started in 1999, honor retailers who have demonstrated growth, innovation and a commitment to their respective communities. This year’s winners came from a pool of more than 70 nominees.
“Jim Whaley is a retailer of the year EVERY year to the customers of Jim Whaley Tires, its 93 employees as well as the Dothan and Wiregrass areas,” said Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown.
The Alabama Retail Association represents retailers, the largest private employer in the state of Alabama, before the Alabama Legislature and the U.S. Congress. Through sales of food, clothing, furniture, medicine and more, our 4,200 independent merchant and national company members touch almost every aspect of daily living. Since 1943, we’ve worked to promote what’s best for the retail industry in Alabama. Whether voicing the retail view when public policy is made, educating members about issues that impact them, negotiating rates for benefits and services or communicating the retail story, the Alabama Retail Association and its members are better together.