Management: Three Generations of Selling Tires
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Management: Three Generations of Selling Tires

Michigan City’s Flanigan Tire Inc., 130 W. Sixth St., has employed three generations of Flanigans during its 70 years in business, and could possibly have a fourth. Mike Flanigan started working for his father, C.J. "Pat" Flanigan, in the family tire business when he was a kid, then started full-time when he got out of the Navy in October 1970 ….

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(Michigan City News-Dispatch) Michigan City’s Flanigan Tire Inc., 130 W. Sixth St., has employed three generations of Flanigans during its 70 years in business, and could possibly have a fourth.

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Mike Flanigan started working for his father, C.J. "Pat" Flanigan, in the family tire business when he was a kid, then started full-time when he got out of the Navy in October 1970.

After 40 years, Mike said, "Being in business today is still fun, but it’s not getting any easier."

With today’s large chain stores, Mike said it’s difficult for businesses to make it into the third generation.

"Only half of them are passed on to the second generation," Mike said, and with the third generation, it drops considerably.

"It was more common years ago. There’s not as many family-owned businesses. Everything is going to the big box stores."

He talked about the rising costs of running a business, including a monthly health insurance premium that recently quadrupled.

Flanigan’s has a steady business, and Mike’s sons, Kevin, 32, and Kyle, 28, now work for the family company. Kyle has 5-year-old twin boys, Colin and Matthew, who could become the fourth generation of Flanigan owners.

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"I hope they will take it on," Kyle said. "I will give them the choice to go into it."

Pat Flanigan, 93, got into the tire business to service the Yellow and Checker taxi cab business he started in 1938. Mike said his father is a natural salesman and promoter. Pat Flanigan was among the first to install two-way radio systems in his cabs.

"He was on top of new things coming out," Mike said. "He was always willing to try something new."

The cab company was originally located above the 11th Street South Shore station, then moved to a larger space at 616 W. Ninth St. in 1968, according to Mike, who remembers living above the company.

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Flanigan’s cab business died out during the 1960s, when more people were driving their own cars, but the tire business continued. In 1972, Flanigan Tire moved to its present Sixth Street spot, which Mike describes as "bigger and better."

Kevin Flanigan has fond memories of going with his grandfather to auctions and out for occasional lunches when he was a kid.

"He told me to ‘work smarter not harder,’" Kevin recalled.

He said his grandfather still comes into the business every day in the morning and stays until the early afternoon.

"He just hangs out, Kevin said. "He likes to see what we’re all doing."

Courtesy of TIRE REVIEW Magazine.

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