So what is the family's secret to its longevity and success?
"You got to start out with a lot of money," quipped Bill Ziegler, voicing an ongoing family joke. He recalled how his Uncle Ralph once commented to the first-generation brothers: "I don't understand it. You've been losing money since 1919, and you're still in business. You must have started out with a hell of a lot of money!"
But, he said, Oliver Ziegler had his family to buoy up the company.
"When Oliver started, he had Harold. … He had his family, which he didn't have to pay too much — or for free. ... He ran it very lean."
He said he looked at some of the old financial reports, "and they were scary! But a lot of it was because of family. Family would work cheap. If things got bad, the family would work for free probably, and just have enough to live on. And it's still that way to a certain extent.
"We all live on the philosophy: If the company makes money, we'll make money. If it makes less, we make less. If it makes more, we make more. So we're really trying to instill that everybody's important."
John Ziegler recalled how that philosophy played out during the Great Recession of 2007-09.
"It was probably one of the few times I remember we actually had pretty serious layoffs. We probably laid off 10% of our total staff, which was really tough. ... It was one of those 'tighten up the chinstrap.' We obviously survived that, but it was a tough lesson," he said, noting that management also took pay cuts. Once things turned around, the company hired back staff and continued to expand.
"It all comes down to having good people," Bill Ziegler said. "Good people in the management. Good people in the field. Good people in the stores. You can have all the fixed assets you want, the buildings and all those kind of things, but it's the employees that make the difference. We battle to find good employees."
The original four brothers instilled that family attitude in business, John Ziegler added.
"A lot of independent tire dealers that are in the tire business, with a family that has been around a long time, there is a lot of similarities. The work ethic was there, and they instilled that in the employees. And for the employees (the company) was part of their families as well."
While the dealership deals with turnover in some job positions, it also has veteran employees who have been with the company for as long as 50 years.
"There's a two-way loyalty kind of thing with the employees," John Ziegler said.
"Our biggest accomplishment is seeing our people grow, develop and being able to retire," Bill Ziegler said. "We started a foundation where we help our employees' children go to college with scholarships every year. That's the thing I'm most proud of is watching the growth of some of our people."
COO Nate Clements, who has been with the company for 14 years, said loyalty between the company and its 380 employees also extends to its suppliers and customers.
"Over 100 years, there were a lot of bad times for a lot of customers, and we tried to stand by them through their rough times. So when we go through rough times, they stand by us," he said.
And it was getting through difficult economic times that was the company's greatest challenge, according to Bill Ziegler, particularly during the Great Depression.
"My Uncle Oliver expanded quite a bit after he started and then the Depression came and that had a profound effect on him. He pretty much went into his shell and didn't expand anymore. He was just trying to keep what he had. And it was that way from the '20s until the '60s," he said.
Under Bill Ziegler's leadership, the dealership began to grow steadily through acquisitions of one- or two-store dealerships in Ohio and surrounding states. Its largest acquisition to date was a three-location business in Wester, Pa.
Acquisitions were made of same-kind businesses selling anything from a wheelbarrow tire to an earthmover tire. He described it as a lot of organic growth with small operations so the company could manage the influx of new business and employees and make changes that it wanted to make to the new stores.
The Zieglers said they always are looking for growth opportunities that will extend their footprint.
Another challenge for the company is finding good employees.
"Finding people who want to work, who want to come to work every day and want to be trained, because we're looking to train them the right way, to train them safely. And someone who can grow with us," Mr. Clements said.
"We're always interviewing," he added, "because if we find good people, even if we may not have a spot for them at that time, we may go ahead and start the training process, because we believe they can grow with us. So we're always looking for good people out there. We're not ever going to stop. That is the best thing we can do. … Some of our best people just walked in off the street."
Bill Ziegler said there are several success stories of employees who started out in entry-level positions, moved to different positions in the company, and eventually managed a store.
"We've tried to concentrate on the core people that you want to grow. You know that person can help the business be more successful," he said, noting there is not a lot of turnover at the management level.
"I think it's attributed to us trying to recognize how important these people are to us and do whatever we need to keep them growing with us," he said.
"I think it's important, too, that over the years the Zieglers have built a company that if something happens to Bill or to John or to myself, the ship is going to sail on," Mr. Clements said. "The company is going to continue to run."
That strategy was tested recently when Bill Ziegler experienced health issues in May that kept him away from the business for several months.
"It doesn't matter who it is, the company will continue on," Mr. Clements said. "People step up, and our employees have stepped up very nicely."
Bill Ziegler acknowledged it is tough operating a family-run tire dealership.
"You're trying to keep people doing what they're good at, trying to help everybody get better, trying to bring younger ones up, whether they are family or not. ... I've always believed that it's good to get some outside experience first. Learn in the real world where you have to actually listen to a boss and do what you're supposed to do and you learn how to manage on someone else's dime."
Mr. Clements added: "Anytime you have a family-owned company and multiple family members, there's always going to be some challenges amongst the family. ... But these guys have proven they can do it over the years. The four brothers managed and then these guys have continued."
"One thing that we learned is I think you're harder on family than anybody," Bill Ziegler said. "I remember when I was young listening to my dad and uncles argue. You'd have thought if they had a gun, they would shoot each other. But they would do anything for each other. And I get on John's butt all the time. My dad was on mine. It's probably harder on the family than anybody."
John Ziegler first worked in the family business when he was 13.
"I always remember my Uncle Norm, when I was working at a truck stop, saying, 'Being a Ziegler you know you got to work harder than all the other people because you have got to set a good example for them,'" he recalled.