STREETSBORO, Ohio (Jan. 21, 2004) — When he opens Defer Tire Co. every day at 8 a.m., Mark Pavlick most likely already has started his day meeting with Streetsboro's department heads, city employees or parties interested in doing business with the city.
As service manager of Defer Tire, Mr. Pavlick spends his day fielding customer calls and supervising technicians. After he closes the dealership at 5:30 p.m., he may go back to city hall, hold more meetings on city business, then arrive home somewhere between 10 p.m. and midnight. Sometimes he goes home to see his three daughters off to bed at 9 p.m., then heads back to city hall to finish his work.
It's all in a day's work for Mr. Pavlick, who moonlights as mayor of Streetsboro when he's not working at Defer Tire, which also is located in Streetsboro. Since he was elected mayor in November 2003, Mr. Pavlick said so far he's been able to balance his dual career by handling city business before and after work, on weekends and by operating on four to six hours of sleep per night.
But, he joked that “sometimes I catch up” on needed sleep during the weekends, when he sometimes goes into city hall at 6 or 7 a.m. on Saturdays to free up family time for the afternoon and Sunday.
At age 41, Mr. Pavlick has a history of political activity. That began with his father, who was mayor of Streetsboro from 1979-83, when he died in office from a brain aneurysm. Mr. Pavlick's brother Dave ran for his father's seat immediately thereafter and served as mayor from 1983-87.
Last May, Mr. Pavlick filed for the city's mayoral primary—his first run for political office—won the primary, then went on to unseat incumbent Mayor Joseph Collica by garnering 63 percent of the vote. He ran as an independent, as all the city's positions are non-partisan, he said.
Besides the family name recognition, Mr. Pavlick said his past community involvement also helped him win the election.
“I always stayed active in the community, so people know me,” he told Tire Business. “I've lived here and grown up here. I've never lived outside this community, so people have known me for my entire life. And of course, working in town I know a lot of people too….I've worked in other campaigns also, so I wasn't a stranger to the political process.”
Streetsboro, a growing town of 13,000 located between Akron and Cleveland, allocates $7,400 as an annual salary for its mayor, which is why Mr. Pavlick still keeps his day job at Defer Tire. The city would need to amend its charter to raise the salary, he explained, but the amendment wouldn't go into effect until the next mayoral term. But it wasn't the money that led Mr. Pavlick to throw his hat into local politics.
“My father always said if you're not happy with something, at some point you have to stop complaining and get involved and do something to equate change,” he said. “That's what really inspired me to run, more than anything. I wasn't happy with what was going on in the city, so I thought I could make a difference by getting involved and applying some of my management and people skills to maybe make the community better.”
Mr. Pavlick said he wasn't happy with the city's services, which he claims were not responding to citizens' needs in a timely manner. He said he also thought “the city was not promoted enough to the type of businesses we wanted to get into town.” His goal is to make the city more business- and citizen-friendly.
In particular, Mr. Pavlick said he wants more communication be-tween his administration and local business owners, as well as to gain new businesses by improving the transportation network within Streetsboro. He said he wants to make sure businesses are zoned in areas where they can succeed because in the past, city development projects have hurt retailers.
Since taking office, Mr. Pavlick has been busy appointing department heads and reviewing the budget. Other issues he will tackle include finding a site for a new fire station, handling citizens' complaints more effectively, researching a possible recreational center and completing a road-widening project. He also will tackle the need to write new zoning laws and manage storm water runoff, as heavy rains last summer caused flood damage to some properties and vehicles.
“If you put a roof up or pavement down, it's that much less land to absorb water,” he explained. “We have to have a plan to manage all that over 25 square miles.”
Although a political neophyte, Mr. Pavlick said he's not thinking about a political career right now. “I really don't aspire much beyond the borders of Streetsboro,” he said. “I'd never say no to anything. You always have to listen and listen to opportunities. I wouldn't necessarily rule it out, but it isn't anything I'm aggressively pursuing at this point.”
A 23-year veteran of the tire business, Mr. Pavlick started changing tires for Defer Tire at age 16 and went on to vocational school to learn the automotive trade. He continued working for the dealership part time through college, where he earned degrees in computer programming and accounting.
After his college graduation, Mr. Pavlick worked for a software company that set up computer systems for tire dealers but found he didn't care for programming. “I enjoyed working with the public and being around automobiles. I find it very interesting. I like business and I like dealing with people.”
He went back to work as a service tech for North Central Tire in North Canton, Ohio, then landed back at Defer Tire, where he's been service manager ever since. In all, Mr. Pavlick has worked for owner Mark Defer, a childhood friend, for 17 years. Mr. Defer founded the single-store retail dealership in 1979. The company is a Bridgestone/Firestone TireStarz dealer located just off the Ohio Turnpike and offers all types of auto service.
Despite his new “part-time” job, Mr. Pavlick said working at the dealership is not a distraction from his mayoral responsibilities. In many ways, he said, running a tire store and running a city are similar in that both jobs require staying focused on accomplishing tasks and dealing with people. He noted that just as he has to deal with customer complaints and make sure customers are satisfied, so he also uses those communication skills in dealing with citizens.
“It's actually a novel idea to have people satisfied with their governmental services,” Mr. Pavlick said. “It's not a terrible approach to things if you can make people happy with the services they're getting. That's always a good thing. A big complaint of people is that government doesn't make certain that jobs are accomplished. That's one of my jobs here (at Defer) so I try to do the same thing (at City Hall).”
Will he run for re-election in 2007?
“Boy I can't think past the end of this month, let alone an additional term,” he said. “There's just so much work that needs to be done. I can't think past a four-year term. I just worry about what job, what problems are at hand at this point.”