On April 11 some 50 years ago, Lawrence ``Sandy'' Sanderson gave perhaps the best last word to the retort of a boss who told him, ``If you don't like it, leave.''
The date marked the 50th anniversary of Sandy's Tire Sales Inc. Following a dispute with his former employer, Mr. Sanderson started the single-outlet retail and commercial dealership in 1955. He had questioned a discrepancy in his commission on truck tire sales, and his boss stated the familiar retort.
``They said basically, `Hey, if you don't like the way we're doing it...go out on your own,''' said President Joe Sanderson, Mr. Sanderson's son who two years ago bought his dad's majority share in the family business. ``He said, `Well, maybe I will,' and he did.''
The dealership celebrated the anniversary with $12.95 oil changes, free alignments with the purchase of four tires and sales on Cooper tires. It also hosted a reception on April 11 with about 100 guests including friends, family and even some original customers from the 1950s.
The company began with a one-bay garage in Warren and has since grown to seven bays. Joe Sanderson said he's considering adding a second store, but he doesn't have any concrete plans.
When he left his other job, the elder Mr. Sanderson escorted his new salesman around to his former customers to tell them of the change and ask for their continued support though he understood they had a choice. ``Everyone stayed with him because they liked him,'' Joe Sanderson said.
About a year later Sandy's Tire added a small retread shop. Joe said the company has decided to stay an independent retreader. Overall, he said Sandy's Tire has enjoyed good business, and he credits the shop's personal relationships with customers for much of that success.
``We have that personal touch, and there's a lot of family involved in our business,'' he added.
Mr. Sanderson, 53, was 4 years old when his father struck out on his own. By age 6 or so he was heading out on service calls with his dad, helping to jack up the trucks, which the young boy thought was pretty cool. But his father was a ``stickler'' for a college education, so Joe earned a teaching degree though he decided to return to the business.
His sister, Sandra, also earned a teaching degree and worked in that field for about 10 years before deciding to return to Sandy's Tire. She is now the company's secretary and treasurer. Another sibling, Gary Sanderson, is vice president and oversees the wholesale business. All three siblings are co-owners in the business.
Joe's son Brent, daughter Brooke and nephew Brad Dietlebach also are involved in the business, which has 23 employees.
Mr. Sanderson said he was not subtly ``led'' into the business through his various jobs at the store. ``You didn't have much choice,'' he joked.
He decided to stay because he thought the business was interesting. Still, he said working in a family business can carry its own stresses because he can't just walk away from work when he's frustrated. Often families can butt heads over decisions, though he said his father routinely took the lead and made final decisions after hearing everyone's two cent's worth. Mr. Sanderson said he finds himself settling into that role now that he's the majority owner.
``It saves a lot of aggravation down the road,'' he said. ``And that way whether you're right or wrong you made the decision (and) other people don't have to worry about it.''
But a family business also carries positives, including the assurance that it will be in good hands if he has to leave for a time because he can count on family members to stay with him.
As for Joe's dad, 79-year-old Sandy is still a testament to the work ethic that built his business. He comes into the shop daily and still makes runs to deliver tires several days a week.