Dawson Moddrelle and Kyle Kimmerle show off one of their environmentally friendly Nokian Tires outside their new auto service center OTR Tire Factory at 835 S. Main St.. [Photo by Travis Holtby/ Moab Sun News]

Tires are not something that most people associate with being environmentally friendly. From the harvesting of the materials, to the energy associated with their production, to their disposal, tires can have a large environmental cost.

But a Finnish company is changing that. Nokian Tires are made from earth-friendly oils, with no toxic chemicals, and are the only environmentally friendly tires on the market, said Kyle Kimmerle.

Kimmerle is the owner of OTR Tire Factory, a brand new auto service center next to Dollar General. And Tire Factory has exclusive rights to market the Nokian tires within Utah.

“I thought it would be a great fit for Moab,” Kimmerle said of Nokian tires.

Until recently, Kimmerle didn’t know much about tires. He used to run the Kimmerle and Hefner Funeral Home. In 2010, after years of running the funeral home, had an opportunity to purchase a uranium mine near Green River and he took it.

“I thought it would be the chance in a lifetime,” Kimmerle said.

But six months after he purchased the mine, the 2011 tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster, devastated Japan and sent international uranium prices tumbling.

Last summer, looking for a new business opportunity, Kimmerle turned to his friend Dawson Moddrelle, a 25-year veteran of the tire industry.

“We could see the community needed another tire store,” Moddrelle said.

The Moab Performance Center and Chip’s Grand Tire Pros were the only stores in Moab that specialized in tires, Kimmerle said.

Moddrelle was a bit hesitant at first. But with a bit of convincing, Kimmerle persuaded his friend that the auto service center would be a good investment.

“I thought it would be the chance of a lifetime,” Kimmerle said.

Next, the pair set about deciding on the name. Eventually they chose to become part of Tire Factory, a California based, member-owned LLC.

“We felt it gave us an advantage because, as 420 dealers, we have more buying power and can get better deals,” Kimmerle said.

OTR will focus on more than just tires.

In addition to dealing with new and used tires, the auto shop will offer mechanical work, oil changes, and alignments.

The alignments will be done by a new state-of-the-art Hunter 3-D camera alignment machine run by OTR’s certified technician.

The technical side of the auto shop is only half of what OTR Tire Factory will be focusing on. The other half will be taking care of the customers, Moddrelle said.

“Our customers will always be greeted with a smile and a handshake,” he said. “Customer service is the biggest thing that I have learned from my years in the tire industry.”

The pair plan to make a concerted effort to explain to customers each of their recommendations.

“We will always take the time to explain things to people. That’s where we will set ourselves apart,” Moddrelle said.

Ted Archuleta agreed.

He recently had his tires changed, plus and got his daughter a set of new tires at OTR.

“It’s the way they greet you when you walk in the door. I appreciate not having to stand around and wait,” he said. “It’s nice to shop around and see if you can get better prices.”

OTR Tire Factory will also be offering several free services to the community, said Kimmerle. Anyone who brings their car in can receive a free check over, which will include having the staff check their tires, brakes and alignment.

On the third Thursday of every month the auto shop will offer free classes on car basics, like how to change a flat tire and how to check tire pressure.

“We are here to make you safer and to serve our community,” Moddrelle said.