Company of the week: Olson Tire & Auto

Pilot and Wausau Review

Editor’s Note: Company of the week is a sponsored feature that shares the stories of locally owned and managed businesses in the Wausau area, highlighting the products and services they offer and how they contribute to the unique flavor of the metro area. Learn how to present your business by emailing [email protected]

The Olson Family: Evan, Kim, Aaron and Kent are the backbone of the Olson Tire & Auto team in Wausau. Photo: Christina Kimball / Wausau Pilot & Review

This week’s flagship company has been a fixture in the Wausau automotive industry for decades. Olson Tire & Auto, 601 Forest St., is not just a household name, the business is a true family affair. President and owner Kent Olson is joined by his wife, Kim Olson, who acts as the business leader, while their two sons – Evan and Aaron Olson – are the sales and service managers who keep the company running smoothly. the company. Traci Seeger, Director of Body Shop and Paint Operations, and General Manager Dylan Thompson round out the Olson Tire & Auto team, which has been in existence since 1987. Kent prides itself on its ‘Happy Auto Care Philosophy‘, ensuring that every customer is cared for and treated with the utmost respect. It’s this philosophy that has garnered national recognition for the Olson team – and at the same time, earns the trust of customers, keeping them coming back year after year. The Olson team play a vital role in the Wausau region, often offering their generous support and assistance to non-profit organizations and other community efforts, helping to make Wausau the vibrant community that it is. In 2019, Kent expanded his business by adding auto body and auto painting services – all with the same commitment to excellence that has allowed his business to thrive for over 30 years. Here is what Kent had to say about his company, its guiding principles and its plans for the future.

Q: When was your business started and what prompted you to start?

A: We started Olson Tire & Auto in 1987. I was a young transplanter who recently moved here from cities with the desire to create my own vision of how auto and light truck maintenance and repairs. should be delivered to customers. I believe in honesty – we don’t operate on commission, but pride ourselves on being compassionate and caring. And we are still able to make a decent living doing it. Recently, in the fall of 2019, we opened Olson Auto Body & Paint with these same ideals.

Q: How did you choose the name of your company? What are you trying to convey?

We chose our name to first reflect the personal pride of a family business, then we developed our philosophy of being “the Happy Car Place” which is the motto of the company in which we live and operate. You are happy because you are getting the most out of your investment. A well-maintained vehicle costs less to own and use. It uses less fuel. It suffers less costly breakdowns. Its value is greater when you decide to sell or trade it. And if repairs are needed, they will likely cost less than for a poorly maintained vehicle. Your vehicle is happy because it receives all the loving care it needs and needs. Today’s vehicle is truly a mechanical marvel. So much so that it’s easy to take its amazing performance for granted. But just like a highly skilled athlete with good muscle tone and fitness, he needs an ongoing maintenance regimen to keep him performing. His manufacturer is happy because we provide everything he recommends. In some cases, based on our experience with vehicles in our climate, we may suggest maintenance services that exceed the manufacturer’s recommendations. But we will never promote services that are not in the best interests of you and your vehicle. We are happy because we are doing what we really love to do. We are pleased to have received the Governor’s Award of Excellence for Exemplary Employers and we are also proud to be regarded by our peers and good clients as an institution of exceptional service. But what sets us apart is a passion for what goes on under the hood of your car. We take great pride in doing our job well. Our greatest reward is knowing that when you leave our store, you leave in a happy car.

Q: Tell us more. What products or services do you offer?

We are a full service auto and truck repair facility that provides service for vehicles of all makes and models, offering just about any type or type of service and we also have a full deep cleaning facility. or retail. Now that we’ve added an additional facility with a state-of-the-art paint and body finishing system, we’re literally doing it all.

Q: What makes your business unique? What sets you apart?

A: Besides our philosophy, I think three things stand out. We don’t really support any commission sales – either on the sales side or on the tech side. We are one of the few stores to operate this way. We are also very proud to be active in many local organizations – not only in direct financial support, but we are also committed to their vision and leadership, in some cases. We are a family business. And our team has been recognized both locally, regionally and even nationally for their leadership in the communities we serve. (Kent was recognized by Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company as the first “Most Engaged Dealer in his Community” with the “Put More Good on the Road” award, while National Tire Business magazine awarded him the “Humanitarian of year ”.)

Q: What do you like the most about your job? What attracted you to this job?

A: We ALL love what we do. We are proud of the investment we have made in our knowledge, our facilities and our business, with a strong will to serve. We love seeing our guests in the community and hearing that we have done a great job or helped someone they have referred. We’re not driven to drive the fanciest cars, own the biggest homes, or fly in the world. We love what we do and we love helping everyone to be a little bit happier.

Q: What are you most proud of?

A: To support our staff and their families for all these years, to increase our ability to support our community and the wonderful people and causes that make it up, and to be part of a legacy that we hope rewards committed and passionate companies. in a local community.

Q: How have you changed and evolved over time? What is different now than when you started?

A: What is different is the radical change in technology. Vehicles today are much more sophisticated than they were when I was a young mechanic. We have a myriad of special tools, technicians who must constantly undergo training and so many more expensive and delicate parts and services to repair and process. Our evolution has been to remain committed to leading by example. Train our staff to be well informed, both in the workstations and at the reception desk. Learning the intricacies of explaining these necessary repairs to our customers – all of this is a daily challenge.

Q: What other challenges did you have to overcome? Basically, if you had to start over, would you do anything differently?

A: The labor shortage has been a major challenge. It is not difficult to find, train and develop a technician, but at the same time, it requires the ability to charge the overhead costs necessary to develop this training. And to pay technicians so that we have a future in our industry. It means re-educating the consumer – while now facing the internet where “everything” can be fixed for less, even if they get it wrong, or if they have no idea what the Wisconsin Rust Belt is doing. to the service process.

A: What are your hopes and dreams for the future? Where do you see your business in five years? ten?

A: My hopes and dreams are for my sons to develop in business leadership and management. I’ve been doing this for over 40 years now, with 34 here as the principal and owner. I think five to ten years from now, I hope to see our collision repair business as vibrant and fully developed as our tire and service business, and I hope our community is still thriving and growing. Maybe we could expand to other places. But I hope I go golfing, fishing, or just chill out a bit by then!

Connect with Olson Tire

Olson Tire & Auto, 601 Forest St., Wausau – 715-845-8473

Olson Body & Paint, 112 S. 7th St., Wausau – 715-845-2639

Visit Olson’s website here and find them on Facebook at Olson Tire & Auto and Olson Auto Body & Paint

About Leslie Schwartz

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