After thirty years of keeping the vehicles of the Pembina Valley equipped with tires and making tire repairs, Sunvalley Tire Co-Owner Ken Hildebrand, who owns the company with his wife Glenda, took time to celebrate last week with a customer lunch and prizes.
Hildebrand reminisced about the last 30 years.
"It's been amazing. From 5 employees, when we first started in 1992, to where we are right now with 39 employees, with an Altona location and our part-timers. Just a great employee base, some of them have been with me from the start. My brother Marvin's been here with me from the start, Harry has been 25 plus, Ernie in Altona, 25 plus, and Ben is 23 plus. All our customers know these people when they come in and they see these people, and they are friends."
He shared how it all started.
"I had worked for Goodyear, a big company at that time. When I had the chance, General Tire approached me and wanted me to take over the Morden location, that's where we started in 1992. Everybody wants to be self-employed and here I am, 30 years later."
Hildebrand didn't waiver from the message on the highlights from the past 30 years.
"The growth and the blessings we've had over the years contributed to a great customer base, and most of all, a great employee base, which I'm truly blessed to have in, what we call, our Sun Valley Tire family."
He added how he creates a family-like culture in the workplace.
"It's connecting with them (the employees) daily, always visualizing what's going through their mind, because you could always feel it when there's something going on with them, and you just have a conversation with them and let them know you care, and that if you can help them, you help them."
Thirty years doesn't come without its challenges.
"There's been many moments where you wonder why you're still doing it, but then you have something like we have today, (July 28th) a celebration, you see all the people show up. That is why you do it. It's just all our customer base and all our employees that are helping. It's a big blessing, I can thank God for it."
Hildebrand shared the secret to sustaining the business for thirty years.
"Getting close to your customers is the greatest thing to grow your business, not just to sell them something, but to be a friend to them. When they come here, I hope they feel they are not just our customers, but they are our friends."