SKOWHEGAN, MaineWhen it comes to talking tires, it's best to talk to the woman in charge at Skowhegan Tire Center.
Lindsay Savage, 29 and general manager of the family-owned dealership, is involved in all aspects of the two-store operation.
She started helping out in the dealership at 13 when her parents, Todd and Diana Savage, founded Skowhegan Tire in 1997. They opened Waterville Tire Center in Waterville, Maine, five years later.
The dealership sells passenger, commercial, OTR, and lawn and garden tires, as well as automotive services and commercial retreading.
The dealership, which employs 15, originally sold used tires but quickly moved on to becoming a pretty big outfit, Ms. Savage told Tire Business, and now handles every major tire brand.
Ms. Savage began working full-time in the dealership after high school and is on track for assuming the helm of the business when her parents retire.
One of three siblings, she is the only one who opted to work in the dealership and she said she always knew she would be taking over the reins of the business someday.
I do alignments. I change tires. I do some of the commercial work, Ms. Savage said. I learned because I couldn't tell my employees what to do if I didn't know how to do it myself.
She manages both stores, which are located 15 miles apart.
I do everything from accounts payable to changing the tires or running the front counter. I train all of our new employees.
Despite her vast experiences, Ms. Savage said she still encounters some sexism in the business.
A lot of the men think that I don't know what I'm talking about. That's very hard, she said.
If I got one of my guys standing next to me and an older gentleman walks in, he'll look right by me at one of my guys who doesn't know the answer to his question and I do.
I let them ask the question and then my guy will look at me, because he has no clue, and I'll answer the question. They quickly find out that I'm definitely the one they need to be talking to.
She has developed a reputation for being extremely successful over the years, according to Andrew Titus, a sales manager for Max Finkelstein Inc., a tire wholesaler that services New England and the Northeast.
I just try to be honest and friendly and I have a lot of great, loyal customers that have been doing business with me since I started, Ms. Savage explained as to her secret to success.
As a woman in the dealership, she said she believes female customers are more comfortable dealing with her rather than a male counterpart.
There's such a stigma out there that if you go in a mechanic shop and you're a women who doesn't necessarily know exactly what things should cost or what things do, that people get taken advantage of quite a lot. I think (women customers) feel more comfortable with a woman (employee).
Women in the tire business also face the challenges of dual careers.
Another aspect that makes (the job) difficult is that I have a family and I work a lot of hours, she said. It's hard to balance that. I work almost 60 hours a week.
So how does she balance her job at the dealership with her job as a mother of two young children?
It's hard. It's very hard. My husband does a great job and he's there when I can't be. We have a lot of late night dinners. We just do what we got to do.
Her advice to women considering a career in the tire business: You just got to be forceful and know what you're doing and what you're talking about, and you can pretty much do anything you want to do in the tire business.
It's definitely not (just) a man's industry. It can definitely be a woman's industry.
To reach this reporter: [email protected]; 330-865-6127; Twitter: @kmccarr