"During the school year I worked in the afternoons and received school credit for it," Thayer said. "In the summer it was a regular part-time job."
Thayer remembers his first car as green with a black vinyl top, and not being the fastest car in the high school parking lot.
"It was a boat, not one of those fast little Chevelles," he smiled. "Sometimes the boys would laugh, but when everybody wanted to go get a burger they all stacked into my car."
He learned a lot about cars and even more about customer service while working in the little gas station in Sacramento.
The part-time job turned into a lifetime career.
His boss at the Shell Station took a position with BFGoodrich Tires, brought Thayer on board and when the time came for promotions, Thayer got the nod. He also has worked for Montgomery Wards, Goodyear and Firestone.
After working as an area manager for BFGoodrich throughout the Valley, he settled in Lemoore at Tire Pros on N. Lemoore Ave. in 1992.
Tire Pros isn’t the conventional small town auto repair place. For one thing, the floors are squeaky clean. Customers can move around among the displays of stacked tires and rims without fearing collisions. There is a snake on the parts counter. It doesn’t bite, it’s rubber.
"We keep it clean," Thayer said. "We want the store to be comfortable for everyone who comes in here."
Keeping the store clean is one of his daughters’ jobs. The family-owned and run business sees daughters Deidre, 14 and a freshman at Lemoore High School, and Kristen, 12, a student at Island Elementary, keeping the place clean as well as papers filed and, shredding through a stack of papers from 2006.
"I think it’s a good business," Deidre said.
Thayer feels his business has been successful because his customers know they will be treated honestly and with respect.
"We’re not afraid to recommend that something they need be fixed on a car, even if it backs us up or a customer decides to take the car somewhere else," Thayer said. "And, we don’t play the suggested retail price game. We don’t do the big mark-ups that you see some dealers placing on their items."
Thayer also credits his employees with a lot of his success, especially Randy VanZuyen who was at the store when he purchased it. He considers VanZuyen the backbone of his operation, the man you go to make sure things are done correctly.
Thayer has seen some changes in the tire industry in his 30 years selling and installing tires. The 20-inch tire he feels is probably the biggest change that isn’t a fad. He also feels the higher mileage guarantee on tires has helped change the industry.
With wife, Renae, keeping up with the book work, the Thayers are looking forward to many more years at Tire Pros helping build relationships within the community.
"I see families grow and change," Thayer touched the keypad to his computer and looked at its screen. "I pull up a name and there’s this family. First maybe two names, father and mother, then you start adding on more names. That’s their kids as they start getting out of their homes. Sometimes names disappear from families, that’s sad. And sometimes, especially here with the Navy, there won’t be any movement behind the names for several years, and then, back they come. I’d like to think that’s because they’ve learned to trust us."
When not at work, Thayer enjoys golf, restoring cars and trying to get the pond at his home in the Island District in shape. (Tire Review/Akron)