When driving down the highway or rushing through traffic for work it can be easy to forget what keeps a car going.
While there are many pieces to keeping a car safely on the road, a core component of vehicles are, at times, overlooked: the tires.
With Interstate 35 cutting through Ardmore, Ardmoreites are all too familiar with the signs of tire troubles along the constantly busy highway. Strips of tires, black marks, broken down cars and even accidents can be seen almost daily on the interstate, with some of those accident related to a tire blowout or incident.
Michelin, seeing a potential need in the community, has decided to help the community with tire safety.
Michelin officially opened its free tire air station this summer, an initiative started by the maintenance team at the plant.
“The maintenance department was really looking for a way to connect with the community,” Brad Dollar, the facilities maintenance manager at Michelin, said. “And what better way than to provide compressed air to the community and our employees.
“We’re a tire company so it kind of makes sense.”
The station, located at the B entrance at the plant, is marked by a seven-foot tall Michelin Man statue. The station is completely free to the community and allows visitors to check their tire pressure and then inflate or deflate the tire to the proper pressure.
Dollar said the maintenance department started brainstorming an idea for a community project this spring.
“In mid-March we started kicking the tires so to speak,” he said with a smile. “Really by mid-April we were pouring concrete and ordering the statue and it took us quite a while to get it up and ready.”
Dollar said once the team determined they wanted to create a community station, they started browsing for locations on site. The team also wanted to incorporate Michelin’s core values into the project, which led them to consider an alternative source of energy for the stand-alone station.
“We’re trying to cut down energy costs and energy usage in the plant so why don’t we do solar panels,” Dollar said of the station, which is now completely powered by solar panels. “We looked into it and that’s what we ultimately decided to do it.”
Maia Day, Michelin regional communications manager, said it can be easy to forget the importance of tire maintenance — something drivers should check at least once a month. Day said tires are essential for safe driving and are a major factor in important driving maneuvers, such as stopping and braking.
“Tire pressure is very, very important,” Day said. “Under inflation and over inflation are both equally as dangerous just because of the wear of the tire.
“Normally, I think we just jump in our cars and think ‘oh well my radio isn’t working or I need gas soon’ but we very rarely think about the safety of our tires and I think it’s important that people start to do that.”
Day said the station wasn’t part of a scheduled project and provided no extra monetary benefits for the employees. Rather, the employees put in the effort work in the station because they wanted to provide for the community.
“The pride, the heart and the sincerity that they put behind this way fantastic,” Day said. “You can tell that they really cared about what they were doing.”
“We put a lot of work into this,” Dollar said. “Our whole maintenance team here at the plant contributed to this and made this happen.
“It’s kind of our labor of love.”
The free air station can be found at the Michelin plant at entrance B.