It was in the summer of 1985 that Discount Tire opened its door to the Utah public for the first time. Today, the doors to seven stores swing wide open to Utah customers.

And, believes Kim Lobb, vice president of Discount Tire, for good reason."Service," he says matter-of-factly.

The reason for the good service, he continues, is because Discount Tire specializes in tires . . . "Good quality tires," Lobb adds. "Names like Goodrich, Michelin, Pirelli, Yokohama, Monarch, and our own Discount-brand of tire."

The company also offers customers two key things that go along with tires: wheels - all brands of custom wheels - and wheel balancing.

Lobb went on to point out that by specializing the time it takes to mount, balance and put the new tires on is minimized.

"I'd say, in most cases, we can have new tires on a car in 30 minutes. And while customers are waiting we have a very comfortable waiting area. That's an area we pride ourselves in. Our waiting rooms are as clean as you'll find. The fact that over 40 percent of our customers are women, I think, proves it," he said.

Another thing that Discount Tire offers with all tires purchases is free tire rotation over the life of the tires, free flat repairs and free re-balancing.

During the winter, shops will also change and remount all snow tires purchased from Discount Tire.

"I think, too, what has given us the edge of the competition is the people we hire. Customer service is our number one goal and our people work hard to achieve it," Lobb adds.

On the national scene, Discount Tire continues its 30-year pattern of steady growth. It recently added three company-owned stores in other parts of the country and increased its sales 18 percent during the past year to retain its title as North America's largest dealership chain, based on company-owned stores.

In 1989, the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based dealership operated 214 company-owned stores.

Founded in Ann Arbor, Mich., in 1960, Discount Tire moved its headquarters to Scottsdale, Ariz., fie years ago after the company became firmly established in six western states.

The company began moving into Arizona in the middle 1970s. It began establishing stores in Indiana in 1979, Colorado in 1980, New Mexico, Nevada and Texas in 1982, California in 1983, Utah in 1985 and Washington state in 1987.

Plans are to have about 30 new stores per year, while closing and replacing other facilities. Sometimes the net game may be only two or three.

Bucking the trend toward increased automotive service, the company offers only tires, wheels and wheel balancing, so, as Lobb points out, "we can do it right and fast."