One of Les Schwab's runnin' tire men and native Oregonian, Tony Tautfest, takes the helm in West Linn.
by: JIM HART, New manager Tony Tautfest stands near the sign on Eighth Avenue that announces the long driveway back to the tire center.

Tony Tautfest is the kind of manager many employees would want to call his or her boss. He came up through the ranks, so he knows what it's like to be on the firing line.

And as new manager of the West Linn Les Schwab Tire Center, Tautfest often joins the runnin' tire men to keep his customers happy and get them back on the road quickly.

'(Managers) don't expect anything of our employees that we don't do ourselves,' Tautfest said, 'especially at the company's smaller stores.'

Tautfest and the company owner speak with one voice when they talk about taking care of their customers.

At Les Schwab, Tautfest says, it's all about customer service.

'The reason we're runnin',' he said, 'is because our customers don't want to wait around. We hustle to get people taken care of.'

Since West Linn is a community with fewer people in its population than some of the company's other stores, Tautfest says he can get people taken care of more quickly.

The only things working against a quick in and out is the company's popularity and its demonstrated commitment to service. But on almost any day, a customer can drive in without an appointment and leave a car for an hour or two and get a complete tire change.

Tautfest boasts same-day service without appointments, free shuttle service to your nearby home or workplace, free air and brake checks and free tire rotation, battery and suspension checks. They'll also give limited assistance with jump-starts and mobile air service.

Keeping employees runnin'

Since the company offers many services as well as products (tires, brakes, shocks, alignment, hitches, lift and lowering kits, chains and RV accessories), Tautfest's objective is to keep his employees runnin'. They often run out to the parking lot to greet customers.

'We strive to treat our customers as if they were our grandparents or our parents,' he said. 'Our goal is to treat everybody not only with the utmost respect, but also to take as good care of them as we would for our own family.'

And to carry that further, Tautfest wants his employees (and himself) to know customers on a personal first-name basis when they begin work on their vehicle.

'Whatever the customer needs us to do,' he said, 'we're here to provide that for them. We're here to find solutions, rather than say no.'

Tautfest began his work at the Les Schwab Tire Center in Wilsonville, the center nearest his boyhood home in Donald. He was promoted to assistant manager at a tire center in southeast Portland, and transferred to the very large center in Gresham - also as assistant manager.

Almost 14 years after he first walked into the Wilsonville store, Tautfest became manager of the West Linn center.

Since he grew up in a small town, Tautfest says he is trying to keep that 'down home' feel at the West Linn tire center. He also wants to be a part of the identity of the community.

The West Linn Tire Center is located at 1990 Eighth Avenue, behind the Willamette Marketplace.

The center is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each Saturday.

For more information, call 503-657-3242.

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