From 18 years old, Alex has played a major role in the business. Originally owned by his brother Ian, Alex moved from his home in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire to run the business with Ian. Over a period of 5 years, Alex progressed from depot manager until eventually taking over the business in 1988.
Working a 7-day week for many years until having children, Alex’s hard working nature and family values have ensured the business has continued to run smoothly even through challenging times. Alex’s son, Dan Walker, helps run the business with his dad today. He said:
“There have been bumps in the road but Alex has weathered every storm that’s come his way. He’s stayed in business through 3 recessions and although there have been hard times, he’s always learned from his experiences and used that knowledge to provide a safe and stable life for those around him.”
It’s this resilience that has led Walkers Tyres Darlington to become a real pillar of the local community. Speaking about how the business runs now, Dan continued:
“Things run today just like they have over the previous years. We are a solid team offering honest services. A lot of tyre houses have branched out into brakes, exhausts and other minor mechanics. We choose to stick to what we know best.”
From starting out offering part worn tyres, the business moved on to selling remoulds, then brand new tyres which is all that can be found lining the shelves today. Their tyre service offering – which includes tyre fitting, puncture repair and wheel balancing to name a few – and quality customer service has supported many loyal customers over the years. Much of their business is through repeat custom, with many families having used the garage through the generations. This generational trend doesn’t just apply to customers though. Dan Walker joined the business 17 years ago, initially working Saturdays to earn some pocket money before becoming full time in 2009. Dominic Walker, Alex’s second son, then took over the Saturday position and still helps out to this day.
Not only does Walkers Tyres help to serve general members of the public, but key workers too. One of the proudest moments for Alex and his sons was during the Covid pandemic, when they were able to help keep the emergency services moving. Dan said:
“A large portion of our customers are NHS workers, police officers and Air Ambulance rapid response drivers. Being able to help keep them on the road during such an uncertain and essential time will always be a proud moment for us.”
It’s this level of service that Alex, Dan and the team pride themselves on. Dan continues:
“Running a successful business isn’t always about turning a huge profit. We’ve had many ups and downs over the years but the reason we’re still here today is Alex’s ability to learn from his mistakes. He cares so much about providing a reliable and honest service and making sure customers leave happy. It’s all about honesty over profit – if we were to describe the business in 3 words, that would be it.”
So what does the future hold for Walkers Tyres Darlington? As far as Alex and Dan are concerned, more of the same. Dan comments:
“40 years in business is a huge achievement. As Alex nears retirement and I look to take over the reigns, I plan to change very little. I admire my dad, the business he’s built and the reputation he has. You don’t fix what isn’t broken, just like you don’t replace tyres unnecessarily. There are no grand plans, just an ambition to continue providing the best service possible to our generations of customers.”