MILLERSBURG, Ohio—Millersburg Tire is located in the heart of Ohio's Amish Country—something President Brad Schmucker said has helped the business over the 60 years it has been in operation. He said when people ask him how he can sell tires in Amish Country, he replies, "As the world changes, so do the Amish."
"The business is stable and the people come to this area, they want what we have," Mr. Schmucker told Tire Business recently during a celebration of the dealership's 60th anniversary. "They want the quieter, more serene life."
He said some businesses in the area have numerous Amish employees and have vans that drive them back and forth to work. These vans are a big part of Millersburg Tire's business, making the LT245/75 R16 tire size the "most important" LT tire the company carries.
However, he credits the farming community, along with tourism, for the bulk of the business' $10 million in annual sales. "What drives our economy around here is the farmers," he said.
Mr. Schmucker was raised in the business, being born just three weeks after his father, Sheldon Schmucker, and his uncle, Art Miller—who will be turning 85 and 90, respectively, this October—started the dealership 60 years ago. Mr. Miller said he thinks his nephew is doing a "great job" running the business and is proud he took over. "We had good leaders to start out," Brad Schmucker responded.
"My dad and my Uncle Art who started the business...set the ground work. All I've done is put a few blocks on top of what they've done." Brad Schmucker said his dad started out with $10,000—$5,000 from his dad, Brad's grandfather, and $5,000 from the bank—along with "two used tires and one new tire." He said the company's longevity is a tribute to his father's and uncle's hard work. He said that his father decided to "stay in town here and take care of everybody" instead of expanding the business into different locations.
This is why the business has stayed a single location to this day The company did relocate in 1987 to its current site in Millersburg, which includes five service bays in the main building, a retread plant and two alignment bays in the barn next door.
The company remodeled the building when it moved in and then again in 2008. Mr. Schmucker said he wants to expand at the location and has blueprints drawn up for an additional building that would accommodate servicing 53-foot trucks and trailers to "better serve the trucking business" because "truck tires have grown quite a bit around here." Although the company is one location, Mr. Schmucker said it has customers "within a 500-mile range of Millersburg," including people from Cleveland, Akron and Canton. "We are grateful for that," he said.
"We've been really blessed." Millersburg Tire is still very much a "family business" with Brad Schmucker's wife and two children as part of the team as well as several other family members who work in various capacities. "There are quite a few family members involved," Mr. Schmucker acknowledged. He said the key to the business is Millersburg Tire's honesty and integrity. Millersburg Tire employs 32 full- and part-time workers who put an emphasis on customer service. Mr. Schmucker said his father told him,
"Yes, you may have been able to make a lot more money on one deal, but that it is important to focus on the repeat business." "These people we are selling tires to are our neighbors and friends," Mr. Schmucker added. "We won't sell them anything that we won't run on our own vehicles. "We don't want to just sell something and never see you again....I think we've done a really good job on that." Part of the emphasis on customer service includes knowing who the customers are.
Mr. Schmucker said the business has incorporated more ladies magazines in the waiting room and added a changing table in the women's restroom. He said that is something that may have not been important in his father's era, but is now. "It wasn't important back in the '50s and "60s," Mr. Schmucker noted. "My mom would have never bought tires; not in a million years. Now the ladies, they come in with their kids and stuff. So it's important that you go and change things like that.
I'm proud of the fact that we've done that."