Jon Langerak, the chairman and CEO of Wonderland Tire Company, runs his business by the same family motto handed down by his grandfather, Bill Kamps, from back when the business was founded in 1978—“Family. Value. Trust.”
These words became instilled in Langerak over the years as he watched his family members work at the family-owned, Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Wonderland Tire. He got his start in the industry working for his grandfather and two of his uncles—Henry and Earl Kamps—as a 15-year-old in 1983.
“I was looking for work and they hired me to repair tubes, sweep floors and dismount and mount tires,” Langerak says.
Today, the motto permeates every facet of the business, reflected in everything from the framework of the company’s culture to the loyal customers who depend on Langerak’s team for all their tire and service needs.
The sentiment doesn’t apply only to what customers can expect from Wonderland Tire, either. Langerak’s 185 employees (150 of those full-time) benefit, too.
“We have many employees who have made a long-term career of working for us because we treat them with respect and trust, provide an excellent work environment with modern and well-maintained equipment and facilities, and we pay above-average wages and provide excellent benefits compared to industry standards,” Langerak says. “It builds trust and loyalty when a customer comes back time and again and sees the same faces and talks to the same people about what they need. These employees are on the front lines every day making sure the customer’s experience is an exceptional one.”
Wonderland Tire includes a sales mix of approximately 30% new tires in retail and commercial, 45% commercial retreading, 20% service and mechanical, and 5% in accessories. The business carries Firestone, Bridgestone, Cooper and Hankook as its main passenger and LT brands, and Hankook, Falken, Firestone and Bridgestone commercial tire brands. Wonderland Tire also carries AcuTread, Pre Q and Marangoni retread options.
With such a diverse lineup offered by the business, Langerak says it’s important to stay on top of the latest technology to drive the business forward. For example, he says, this past January, he decided to install a brand-new computer system called GTX and Treadware in all his stores, including Wonderland Tire’s retread plants and corporate office.
“After researching and shopping for the right system for about four years, it has been a huge undertaking—but is paying off,” he says. “It has streamlined and improved the front counter customer experience, made quoting and billing mechanical services much easier and quicker, improved ordering and receiving of tires and parts, and eliminated a huge amount of redundancy and back-office paperwork. It also allows for much better control of our key performance indicators and reporting of sales and efficiencies.”
Steadfast adherence to the principles of Wonderland Tire’s motto has proven fruitful for the business. Following several acquisitions and expansions over the last several years, Wonderland Tire today spans 12 commercial/retail locations and four retread plants across six states. The company recently acquired Sumerel Tire Service in Newport, Kentucky, and Wonderland Tire also has a new 25,000-sq.-ft. location in Byron Center, MI, which boasts six retail bays, five truck bays, an RV bay, a heavy-truck alignment bay and four loading docks.