Middle of the night. Dream sequence No. 2 is just replaying and then, drat, the answering service rings, jarring one of the guys on the other end of the phone from sleep.
They're not physicians. But for the sake of discussion, you could call them ``tire doctors''-part of Jerry's Tire Inc.'s 24-7 on-the-farm repair service. It provides help to farmers during those critical times when they may be facing a tire dilemma while knee-deep in alfalfa, no matter the hour of day or night.
While years of anticipation may have groomed the tire guys from Jerry's to be light sleepers, they know how expensive down time out in the field can be. Maybe that helps make the late-night beckonings more bearable.
``We're the friend of the farmer, that's what we do. When they're down, we go take care of them,'' explained Michael Lehman, retail sales manager who's been with Jerry's Tire since 1981. ``Our guys in the service trucks have combined experience of at least 15 years.''
That expertise allows the company to operate two 24-hour service trucks covering the entire state of Michigan. They have constant two-way communication with the dealership's Lake Odessa base and, of course, with the ever-vigilant answering service.
Like most retail/commercial dealerships, Jerry's service trucks handle typical road service assignments like broken-down semis on the expressway, RV-ers with flat tires and a grader in a gravel pit with a tire-related problem. But Mr. Lehman estimated that farm service comprises the bulk of the dealership's business. And he claimed that, as far as he knows, Jerry's Tire has the largest inventory of Goodyear rear farm tires in Michigan-in excess of $1 million in farm tires and wheels.
``When farmers are busy, we're the busiest,'' he said, though thus far February has been ``a little light on traffic.''
The dealership is part of a legion of more than 800 Goodyear dealers nationwide who offer what the Akron-based tire maker calls ``Gold Star Pit Stop Tire Service.'' To find a nearby dealer, a farmer calls 1-888-FARMTIRE.
Goodyear said its Pit Stop dealers are equipped with power bead breakers, air/hydraulic jacks, calcium chloride pumps and cranes to handle tire-changing challenges, such as a 700-pound combine tire or a 500-pound tractor tire filled with 2,000 pounds of liquid ballast.
Mark Carpenter is president and CEO of Jerry's Tire and the company's Jack's Auto Service outlet in Sturgis, Mich. He told Goodyear's Revolutions agricultural tire newsletter that his company decided to make the investment in equipment to service farm accounts, several of which are located on the opposite side of the state. To expedite repairs, he devised a service call sheet that includes critical data such as tractor model, tire size, location, etc.
``This information really helps when farmers are racing against the clock,'' said Mr. Carpenter, who took over the dealership from his father more than 20 years ago. ``If we're going to sell tires and service to farmers, we have to have the right equipment.
``It takes years to build up a relationship and only minutes to break it down.''
Mr. Lehman said the dealership, founded 54 years ago, was offering round-the-clock farm tire service long before Goodyear coined the Pit Stop term. The company's Jack's Auto outlet, purchased by Jerry's Tire about eight years ago, also services farm tires. ``That's something we're implanting into that (store's) area. And although there's some stiff competition there, with Jerry's backing it should be very successful.''
From Lake Odessa, Jerry's operates retail, commercial and wholesale businesses. ``We're diversified to the point where, if it rolls down the road, is black and got a hole in it, we sell and service it,'' he said.
The company also has a growing Internet-based venture that Mr. Lehman said ships between 30 and 50 tires per day across the country. Jerry's got ``in on the ground floor'' when Amway Corp., in 2000, became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alticor Inc. and separated into four divisions.
Alticor's Quixtar Inc. Web-based business is an online store advertising ``exclusive brands and famous names (and) product delivery-what you want, when you want it.''
Mr. Lehman said Quixtar offers ``anything from dish soap to tires-and we're the tire provider.'' Via the Web site, Jerry's Tire sells all major brands, featuring Goodyear but also Firestone, BFGoodrich, Mastercraft, Cooper and other lines.