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Career road leads to hometown entrepreneurship

Baldwin Register
April 27, 2010
By Leigh T. Moore

A Robertsdale native, Dewayne Hayes remembers growing up in Central Baldwin and riding the bus to Daphne where he attended Christ the King Catholic School as a child.

“I rode the bus over with a bunch of guys, and we really became close and maintained our friendship,” Hayes said. “We were like a band of brothers, and through the years, we’ve stayed close.”

After graduating from Robertsdale High School, Hayes became interested in the transportation field after having a summer job with a produce company.

“I became infatuated with the way the diesel engines ran and the mechanics of it,” he said. “I would be up working ’til midnight a lot of times and learned a lot.”

He took a job with Caterpillar and then with Coca-Cola in Mobile, where he was able to finish his degree at the University of South Alabama in marketing and transportation.

“I was in fleet maintenance for 300 vehicles, and it was a tough job getting the salesmen off the road,” he said. “I wanted to move up in the company, but the only opening was in Columbus, Ga.”

So instead he moved to Great Southern Wood and worked as a traffic manager for many years with that company.

“Everything good in my life seems to happen by accident.” Hayes said. “I answered a blind ad for that job and it was a great experience.”

Eventually, however, he wanted to get closer to home, and through a series of events, found himself in the position to buy Sweat Tire in Robertsdale.

“I knew the Sweat family needed help. They wanted to sell their business, and in October 2007, I bought it.” he said. “It was my first time I ever worked in tire retail, but my maintenance background helped.”

Using many of the business practices he learned through the successful companies he’d worked for paid off, and in three years Hayes has tripled the business of the small tire company, he said.

“We treat people with honesty and provide good, quality service,” he said. “I try to sell quality product that people won’t have problems with, and we pay attention to details.”

Being a good employer is also important to Hayes, who won a progressive business of the year award from Central Baldwin Chamber of Commerce last year.

“I promise my workers decent money and hard work in no particular order,” Hayes said. ” I provide the with good benefits, and try to be fair.”

He has also put his marketing skills to work in designing a logo and even giving away caps for his business. And in November 2009, they opened a second location in Bay Minette.

When he is not running his business, Hayes is a member of three chambers of commerce and he enjoys playing golf. He jokes that he loves to fly, and dabbles in the cattle industry.

“I have 200 head of cattle spread all over Baldwin County,” he said. “my Dad had cows, and started raising brood cows to sell in June 2005. I enjoy my cattle operation.”