Trudy Deutsch never intended to become a tire dealer, let alone a business owner. Early in her marriage to her first husband, Jim Vanderburg, the couple bought a small patch of land outside of Sioux Falls. Across the street from their new home in the country was a tire shop that had been closed for several years.
“My husband said ‘I’d really like to buy that,’” recalls Deutsch. “I said, ‘Well, let’s go out for supper one last time then because we’re never going to get to go out to eat again,’” she laughs. “It was 1979, an oil embargo was in effect, and we were buying a gas station.”
The former owner of the building told them they’d never make it unless they sold beer and stayed open on Sundays. Another advisor, an experienced business owner, also told them they’d never make it. Decades later, this year’s Mr. Tire/Big 3 Tire Top-Shop-winning location has proven them wrong.
Against the advice of others, the couple bought the location and soon moved across the street and into the house attached to the business.
At the start, the location was made up of a house, an office and one service bay. Since then, Manley Tire has grown to nine bays for tire and oil changes, six mechanic bays, plus two state-of-the-art service trucks.
While her former husband worked on vehicles and in sales, Trudy took care of their four children and handled the bookkeeping. Then in 1983 as the business grew, she joined the business full time. When they divorced in 2002, she bought Jim out, and never looked back. Now as full owner, she was able to make changes to better serve and engage with customers.
“I want to treat the customer with honesty and integrity,” she explains. “I don’t ever want to tell a customer a lie. I don’t ever want to tell a customer something that’s not true. I don’t ever want to promise them something that I can’t deliver.”
Manley Tire is also transparent when it comes to pricing, giving customers the complete price – how much they will pay for their tires, mounting, balancing and tax – before they even walk in the door. In an era when many owners make it a point to keep religious beliefs separate from their business, Manley Tire does the opposite, placing their Christian values front and center, making their faith as part of the culture. Deutsch made the decision to serve God through service to customers. Once inside Manley Tire, it’s clear that the business focuses on more than vehicle needs alone, with a prominent “To God Be The Glory” and hand-hewn cross on the wall near the service counter.
The Angel Fund
In the two weeks before Christmas, the tire dealership runs a radio ad sharing the true story of a Manley customer quietly covering the cost of the tires for another customer, a stranger, in need. After running the ad for the first time, the shop was overwhelmed with phone calls and letters with cash and checks. They soon named it “the Angel Fund.” Deutsch said the number of donors and the amounts contributed vary from year to year. The money donated is used to help those with a need they cannot meet on their own – especially during the Christmas season.
Commitment to Others
Manley Tire is unique in its “no appointment” policy, taking customers on a first-come, first-served basis. This requires them to stock nearly 7,000 tires to fulfill that promise. Passenger tires include: Bridgestone, Firestone, Michelin, BFGoodich, Uniroyal, Hankook, Continental, General, Carlisle, Fuzion, Goodyear, Kelly, Yokohama, Toyo, Nexen, Nitto, among others. Ag tire brands include: Firestone, Michelin, Goodyear, Titan and BKT.
Deutsch said they also developed their own training and certification process for technicians, which they call “Manley University Master Tech Training,” in addition to encouraging ASE and TIA training and certifications and tire-sales training available from Bridgestone, Continental and Goodyear.
Today, Deutsch’s two sons work with her in the business. Paul handles the accounting, IT and technical support. Joel handles shop operations and will eventually take the helm when his mom decides to retire.
When asked what motivates her and why she enjoys being a tire dealer, Deutsch said that it gives her an opportunity to help people, which is an expression of her strong Christian faith.
“I love to help people,” she said. “It’s pretty simplistic.”