For more than 90 years, a Levin family member has been at the helm of the Levin Tire Center. “My grandfather, Henry Levin, started the business in Gary at 21st and Broadway. In the early 1970s, we built the facility in Highland on Indianapolis Boulevard and moved our operation here,” says Barry Levin, a Schererville resident and the company’s third-generation owner.
Today, Levin Tire Center has expanded to include six other stores in five communities—Hammond, Hobart, Crown Point, Valparaiso and Merrillville, where two Levin Tire Centers operate. The newest facility in Valparaiso opened two years ago in a newly constructed building.
Levin Tire Center has been affiliated with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. of Akron, Ohio, for decades, Levin says, and that has helped grow the business.
“Goodyear contacted us that they were putting a facility in Hobart and asked if we would run it. We were an existing Goodyear dealer so it was a natural,” Levin says.
Building Levin Tire Center has also taken “hard work,” he says.
“My father and uncle stressed that if you took care of the customer, the customer will take care of you,” Levin says. “You can’t live on one sale. It’s about referrals and recommendations.” The 80 employees of Levin Tire Center—including technicians, general service workers, sales staff, managers and clerical staff—continue that tradition, he says. In fact, that reputation for customer care continues to bring in generations of families who have relied on Levin for their tire and vehicle service needs, he says.
“Our certified and experienced technicians use state of the art diagnostic tools and equipment,” Levin says. “We offer you the highest quality parts for your vehicle. We pride ourselves in bringing you the finest auto service in the area.”
Tire sales compose about half of the company’s business. Full service vehicle care represents the remaining 50 percent of sales. Those services include tire rotation, shocks and struts, computerized engine analysis, heating and air conditioning, batteries, hoses and belts, oil changes, front end alignments, disc brake repair and tire repair.
“We don’t do body work,” Levin says. “We service vehicles like light trucks, vans and cars, all makes and models, foreign and domestic.” The customer service offered at Levin Tire Center has also won the company kudos. Since 1972, Levin Tire Center has been a Better Business Bureau-accredited company with an A+ rating.
“We were also honored by The Times and Shore magazine Best of the Region Tire Store for 2009,” Levin says. Levin says the family’s strong work ethic was a major part of his upbringing in Gary. “I always thought I’d go into the family business,” he says.
While attending Horace Mann High School, Levin began working at the Gary store during the summers. Later, he attended Indiana University, majoring in political science and French, but continued to spend his summers at Levin Tire Center. After earning his degree from IU in 1970, he joined the firm full time and has been there ever since.
However, he says, he will probably be the last generation to run Levin Tire Center. His grown children are pursuing their own careers in Colorado and Illinois.
“We have a lot of really good people here to run the company when I finally do decide to retire,” says the 61-year-old, who adds with a chuckle, “Of course, I have no plans to retire.” Levin remains active at the national level as a member of the Goodyear National Advisory Board, where he’s served for more than a dozen years.
In addition to building his business, Levin says he also works to build up the communities where his stores are located. For example, he’s been a member of the Highland Rotary for more than 30 years.
“I’ve been president of the Rotary Club and help with the annual corn roast we have at Main Square Park. Our company is a big supporter of that fund-raiser and we’ve raised more money than anyone else,” he says. “We get behind it as a corporation.”
Levin and his company also provide financial support for such community organizations as Little League and softball teams. In fact, it’s become a corporate climate at Levin Tire Centers to give back to the community, he says.
“We belong to all the chambers of commerce in the towns where we’re located,” he says. “It’s important to promote civic organizations. Small businesses need to band together and bring in more small businesses. The big corporations don’t always do that.”
On a personal level, Levin says he’s also become active over the last several years in such community service organizations as Meals on Wheels and hospice programs. “Of course, I’m involved in IU sports programs as a member of the Varsity Club,” he says.
“This all keeps me pretty busy.”