Wonderland Tire's Next Leaders Are Learning the Ropes

Sept. 14, 2023

“It’s part of my job to make sure the next generation of Wonderland Tire owners and managers are qualified,” says Jon Langerak, president and CEO of Byron Center, Mich.-based Wonderland Tire Co. and MTD's 2023 Tire Dealer of the Year Award recipient.

Each member of Wonderland Tire’s next-gen group is required to progress through steps outlined in the dealership’s Family Manager Training Policy, which will “ensure that future generations of family members who intend to work in management at Wonderland Tire are properly trained in all facets of the business.”

Completing the program takes several years and begins “at age 12 on the cleaning crew.” From there, next-gen group members “transition into tire work at age 16,” according to the written policy.

At 17 or 18, they are expected to work at a commercial store, going on OTR, ag and commercial truck tire service calls; learning mechanical work, like brakes, alignments and other services; and completing Tire Industry Association Automotive and Commercial Tire Service courses.

From 18 to 20, next-gen group members learn everything about the AcuTread process, which is Wonderland Tire's proprietary retread system. From there, at age 21, they graduate to working at retail and commercial locations everything from running the front counter, dispatching and billing service calls, working with vendors, setting up delivery routes, visiting customers, learning national account paperwork and more.

After completing that portion of the course, next-gen members typically around age 22  learn outside sales and corporate office functions. At this stage, they also attend Wonderland Tire board meetings, family shareholder meetings and more.

Putting future owners and managers through the paces in a systematic way “helps avoid any sense of entitlement” from developing, says Seth Kamps, son of Earl Kamps and Wonderland Tire’s vice president of purchasing and inventory. (He is the senior member of the dealership’s next-gen group.)

“We all have to learn what hard work is and our fellow employees can see that, so there’s a certain level of respect you gain. And it also helps you learn the business. Me, my brothers and my cousins all have gone through pretty rigorous training.”

“One of the big things that attracted me to Wonderland Tire is the fact next-gen members have earned it,” says Ryan Seidel, the dealership’s director of operations, who managed Seth at one point. “My goal is to be here until I retire, so it’s critically important to me that the owners’ kids are very well-rounded.”

Click on the following links to read more about MTD's 2023 Tire Dealer of the Year:

Meet Jon Langerak: MTD's 2023 Tire Dealer of the Year

MTD Tire Dealer of the Year Profile: Jon Langerak

How AcuTread Has Fueled Wonderland Tire's Growth

'Employees Are the Heartbeat of Wonderland Tire'

About the Author

Mike Manges | Editor

Mike Manges is Modern Tire Dealer’s editor. A 25-year tire industry veteran, he is a three-time International Automotive Media Association award winner and holds a Gold Award from the Association of Automotive Publication Editors. Mike has traveled the world in pursuit of stories that will help independent tire dealers move their businesses forward. Before rejoining MTD in September 2019, he held corporate communications positions at two Fortune 500 companies and served as MTD’s senior editor from 2000 to 2010.