When Kane Russell worked in several positions at commercial tire dealer and retreader T&W Tire, he didn't think he'd eventually be in line to be one of its managing partners.
But Mr. Russell, 29, and Steve Theissen, 42, are literally the next generation of T&W Tire. Mr. Theissen's father, Darell Theissen, and Mr. Russell's stepfather, Charles Wilson, formed the commercial dealership in 1987 when they merged their separate dealerships, Theissen Tire and Wilson Tire. Since January, the fathers have been preparing to transfer the company to the sons. John Theissen, also a son of Darell Theissen, works in one of the dealership's eight outlets after joining the company about six years ago.
``I've been here since day one,'' Mr. Russell told Tire Business. ``It's the only job I've ever had.''
The Oklahoma City-based dealership operates four commercial-only outlets, two combination commercial and retail stores and two Goodyear retread shops.
The company sells Goodyear, Dunlop, Kelly, Michelin, Continental and Yokohama brands. T&W posted 2002 sales of $48 million, and it expects 2003 sales of $50 million.
Darell Theissen, who has worked in the tire industry since 1957, said he is happy to leave the company in family ownership.
``I've seen so many companies that get bought out, and they just go to pot, and they just ruin the people and the name of the company,'' he said. ``Hopefully that won't happen to us as long as we have our own management.''
Darell Theissen said he effectively has turned over his share of the day-to-day business, but his partner, Mr. Wilson, remains as CEO and president. Mr. Wilson declined to comment on the arrangement.
Mr. Russell said he worked in a variety of posts, including on a service truck, as a service manager and in the retread plant.
``We're kind of a jack of all trades,'' he said, adding he never assumed he would one day be part of the company's management core.
Darell Theissen said he tried to expose his sons to the business without forcing it on them. He said Steve Theissen joined the company about 20 years ago, right after finishing college, while John Theissen pursued other interests for a time.
Darell Theissen said he tried to give his sons autonomy in their positions, though he still managed major issues.
``You got to kind of watch over, but the little things, they'll take care of those,'' he said.