Working in Clark County: Dave Montei: Tire Store Owner

By Mary Ricks, Columbian news assistant

Published:

 

WORKING IN CLARK COUNTY

Working in Clark County, a brief profile of interesting Clark County business owners or a worker in the public, private, or nonprofit sector. Send ideas to Mary Ricks: mary.ricks@columb...; fax 360-735-4598; phone 360-735-4550.

Dave Montei was a tire store manager but he wanted to own the company. By age 28 he was the owner but didn’t know much about running a business. “I made tremendous mistakes, financial mistakes … Probably the single biggest mistake I have made was not accepting an invitation to become part of a regional dealership.”

Name: Dave Montei.

Job/employer: Owns Richey’s Tire Factory, 10512 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver.

Age: 63.

Education/professional background: I grew up in Tokyo where my folks were missionary school teachers. We left Japan after I graduated from high school.

Milt Richey had opened a tire store in Vancouver in 1954. My parents were friends of the Richey family, and in 1969 I got a summer job at the store and attended Clark College part time for a year-and-a-half. I worked for Richey for 10 years, last as a manager, but I wanted more. I walked into Richey’s office one day and said “I want to sit in your chair.” He said OK. He was ready to do something else. About 45 days later, on Jan. 1, 1979, I owned the business.

I was 28 and was responsible for two stores and didn’t really know how to run a business. Richey and I went to Hawaii to celebrate my buying the store. He had a heart attack and died on the trip. He was 41. I had to learn to run the company by myself and I made tremendous mistakes. Financial mistakes. I am fortunate to still be in business.

Store history: When I bought the business there were stores in Hazel Dell and at 18th Street and Andresen. After a few years, I sold the Hazel Dell store. In 1989, I opened a store in Cascade Park on Mill Plain Boulevard. In 1997 I sold the Andresen store and now just have the Cascade Park store.

Residence: East Minnehaha neighborhood.

One word to describe yourself: Dedicated.

Most rewarding part of job: The people. I look back and realize I have been able to withstand the changes in the industry and the increased competition. Even in the bad years I still came to work with a smile. I have a good customer base, I have been selling to some customers since the early 1970s.

Tough times: I have been on the brink of shutting down. At least twice I wasn’t sure I would make it another 30 days. But I have always come back. I like working in retail. I have the oldest tire store in Clark County.

Most challenging part of job: There are many challenging parts in this business. Cash flow is always a huge issue. I am juggling finances when sales are stagnant. There hasn’t been a lot of growth since about 2009 and part of that is an increase of competition. There are six more places selling tires that were not here six years ago. I have to have a good inventory to satisfy the needs of my customers.

Personal/business philosophy: Honesty. There should not be a question about honesty — ever. I think most people are basically honest. It is a comfort to people walking through the door to know that the place has good service and is honest.

Something you would like to do over: I wish I could have had more grooming about being a business owner.

Six months after I bought the business, Les Schwab called me and wanted me to be an associate dealer. They were ready to secure land around the corner from my Hazel Dell store if I would be an associate dealer for them. If I liked their program, the job was mine. Les Schwab had no stores in Vancouver at the time. I was young, a little cocky, and thought, who needs Les Schwab? I said no. I preferred to be on my own. That was probably the single biggest mistake I have made.

Best feature of my Vancouver/Clark County community: I think we still have a small-town feel and flavor, as opposed to Portland. We have pride in our city.

Favorite restaurant/pub/coffee shop/store: Cactus Ya-Ya and Lapellah Restaurant and Bar.

Hobbies: Gardening, golfing and I played softball for 20 years.

Favorite travel destination: Las Vegas, Nev.

Most interesting play/movie/arts event: I don’t go to many movies. I watch most Yankee baseball games and like television series like “24,” “Shameless,” “Breaking Bad” and “Dexter.”

One thing you want to do this year: Take a real vacation and go to Hawaii.

Something you want to do within five years: I want to back to Japan where I lived for 14 years.

People you’d most like to meet: Steven Spielberg, David Letterman and Tom Hanks.