On any given day during regular business hours, customers can find Vonda Harris Cade discussing the performance of high quality wheels, inspecting breaks or dealing with distributors. A woman functioning in a male dominated industry, Cade has owned and operated Alpha and Omega Wheels in the Verona/Penn Hills area since 2005.
|ON DISPLAY—Vonda and Sponce Cade show off their wheels. (Photo by Rossano P. Stewart)
Known for carrying the largest selection of after market wheels, Cade says people of all ages, gender and nationalities travel from around the area to utilize the services of Alpha and Omega to enhance the appearance of their vehicle.
“One of our customers is a 65-year-old lady from Mt. Lebanon,” she pointed out as an example. “We provide the wheels but other procedures like tinting windows, interior or exterior work is done through local businesses and suppliers we have strong relationships with.” They also recommend Everett Auto Spa as a business that provides professional auto reconditioning services and auto detailing.
Dedicated to providing excellent customer service with absolute low prices on the top custom wheels and performance tire lines available, Cade says Alpha and Omega also carry accessories, performance tires and nitrogen filling. “Wheel sizes range from 18 inches and above for all styles and types of vehicles,” she says, indicating that it includes SUVs, limos and vans. “Wheel prices can vary from $500 to $100,000 a pair, from basic to 24 caret gold and the highest quality of silver.”
They carry Dunlop, Onyx, Starr, Rennen, Vogue and numerous others. As a way to accommodate a variety of budgets, A and O also carry gently used, pre-owned wheels at discount prices.
Able to provide total mechanical work on most vehicles, Cade outlined that A and O services also include wheel alignments for plus size vehicles as well as lifts for old school cars. Due to their affiliation with their sister company, Bonus Tire Service Center, they offer a full array of car repairs. It is owned by her husband, Sponce, who described his business as a full service garage that specializes in tires. “They do state inspections, oil changes, wheel alignments, computerized wheel balancing, brakes and shocks. Mostly everything except transmission work,” she pointed out, explaining that there are several transmission shops within the area.
Once operating from a section within Bonus Tires, Cade says that the demand for custom wheels and rims mandated that they expand the business. Operating as two separate businesses, together they house both establishments at 4349 Verona Rd. with eight full- and part-time staff that includes some family members. Cade said they also decided to go into the business of wheels because of the way they dressed their personal vehicles. “It made sense to have our own instead of always purchasing from someone else.” What once operated from a small section in the garage has expanded to the second floor of the building existing as a well decorated showroom and office area.
In operation for over 30 years, the Cade’s purchased Bonus Tires from the original owner in 2002. Entrepreneur minded, and the owners of real estate, Cade said, “We always wanted to expand and own a business.” She said Sponce often worked with the owner who wanted to retire and live in Arizona. Taking advantage of the opportunity they kept the business name and original employees and have been fulfilling their dream of entrepreneurship ever since.
Not always involved in the business, Cade says she was thrown into the mix when no one came to work who was able to unlock the door. She has been dedicated to learning the business and continues to educate herself by attending trade shows and car shows throughout the region and nationally. Two key industry shows are the upcoming SEMA Show, which is considered the premier automotive specialty products trade event in the world and the AAPEX Show, which showcases many new and innovative products. Both take place in Las Vegas. She also knows to put experienced people in position to help her. Chris Johnson, the manager of A and O, she says is a wheel specialist who has been in the business for a while.
Upbeat and excited about the potential of A and O, Cade says their future looks bright. She and Johnson are working to make it one of the largest distributors of custom wheels in the region and to expand into multiple locations. “We are working to spread our name throughout the city and county.” Sponsoring the recent Summer Madness Car and Fashion Show at the Monroeville Convention Center is just one of the ways they are attempting to bring their business to people’s minds when they are looking to customize their vehicle. She feels that the show was a success and plans to do another one in August of 2011.
Not trying to paint a perfectly rosy picture concerning entrepreneurship, Cade admits that she and her husband have had plenty bumps along the way and expect more to come. “It is important to educate yourself no matter what business you are in,” she said advising to always remember that when you work for the public people need to be treated fairly. She also said to watch how you carry yourself, to be personable and professional, to be honest and a good listener. She encourages networking.
Giving credit to God for the success of the businesses and their lives, Cade said she and her husband put God first at all times and pray together over everything.
(Alpha and Omega and Bonus Tire Center are open six days a week.)