TEXT BY : KANWAR M. UMAR
PHOTOS BY : TWOFIVE3SHOOTER
Tom’s Tire Pros is the first preference for many residents of Abilene for countless reasons, the major one being that they receive unparalleled services every step of the way. Not only this, the owner, Mr. Tom Ceniglis Jr’s reputation precedes him on a personal level as well, due to the kind and considerate way he leads his life and runs his business. He is truly a genuine person at heart.
Due to his prominent character in the community, one can certainly assume that he must’ve been born and raised in Abilene. He was actually born in Los Angeles and has lived in several states, as his dad’s job required them to move. Another unfortunate reason for moving was his beloved mother, may God rest her soul, passed away after a strong battle with cancer. Ultimately the family ended up settling down right here, in Abilene. Speaking of Tom specifically, between 1976 and 1999, he has lived in Abilene from time to time, 99’ was the year when he permanently settled down.
The business was established by Tom’s late father Tom Ceniglis from the ground-up, who previously had a long, prosperous career working with Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. His father purchased the land, built his first store, and further grew the business with immense dedication in the following two decades. In the year 2000, Tom purchased “Tom’s Tire World” from his dad. They’ve had up to five stores running simultaneously, scattered across Abilene, San Angelo, Brownwood & Kerrville. But later decided to reduce the number of locations to two larger stores, one each in Abilene and San Angelo. The business really started showing positive results after this, as they were able to focus more on just two locations. The numbers told the same story. Clearly, paying more attention to a smaller operation was doing wonders for management, handling finances, and increasing customer satisfaction. Owing to such a solid history in the business, their main forte is knowing & recommending which direction to follow based on every client’s precise automotive needs.
Even in times of radically increasing competition, other than the obligatory “highly experienced staff”, “customer centered approach” and a wide range of products, the thing that makes Tom’s stand out from the multitude is a boatload of warranty coverages that gets honored at over 30,000 locations nationwide. That also includes complimentary roadside assistance for every single billed service, which is for a complete year*. This service covers towing, jump-start, lockout, fluid delivery & spare tire changing assistance. You just can’t resist offers like these! When Tom sees his clients pleased, it is the very moment that he values most in running a business like this. From what we see and hear, he definitely has a special place in his heart for serving the community. The thought of making someone’s day better by fixing their problem with outcomes that exceed their expectations is what keeps him motivated. Helping the community not only by his business but through several other opportunities will continue to be a big part of Tom’s life goals.
It’s pretty obvious how Tom’s Tire Pros is a massively respected brand in the industry, and when it comes to the “secret sauce” for this amazing recipe, he makes it clear by his words,
“Looking after the best interest of our clientele is paramount, and this is the way Tom’s does business every day.”
Apart from this, you will always find the staff’s knowledge and all of the equipment to be up to the mark. He never hesitates to invest in improving these aspects because ultimately these are the building blocks that refine and perfect their processes.
We can vouch for what a kind, considerate and generous person Tom is, and he considers these attributes to be inherited by none other than his father. Because of the way he grew up, it’s pretty safe to say that Tom’s father was a selfless person, in a way that he always did so much for others around him, especially the underprivileged. Tom learnt the nitty-gritties of running businesses from his father as well, and look where it got him. Not only this, he owes his old man for most of what he knows about living life the right way and treating others with respect and dignity. Though at the workplace, his father used to be very strict and work-oriented, which is why Tom even had the thought of never working with his own dad ever again. All this said, he still respects his father’s ways. He said and we quote,
“I loved my father very much but he was hard on me because he expected so much from me. There were many times I thought our arguments would come to blows but they never did and I still respect and think back to the lessons my father taught me every day.”
As much as Tom loves his dad, he adores the rest of his family just as much, and he positively acknowledges that his family members have played a vital role in the success of this business by supporting him every step of the way. Back when Tom’s father was running things, his wife Reba Ceniglis often single handedly used to get stuff done with responsibility and continued to do so in the background which turned out to be a major help. For all the important business decisions and initiatives, his wife Angie has always played her part as a pillar of strength for him, just the way Reba was to his father. She also looks after day to day administrative tasks around the workplace, getting stuff done in a streamlined manner. Tom also has two sons, and just like their dad, they were introduced to the business at a young age of about 10, where they started by working one or two days a week, taking care of small tasks like helping organize the inventory and keeping the place clean for some extra bucks. As of now, sometimes they still carry out the daily routine tasks, but they often help supervise and sort out stuff on a much higher, corporate level. Although the entire family comprises of hardworking people, the business is still family owned and everyone can sometimes work in flexible routines, and Tom totally agrees on it by jokingly saying that on nine out of ten days, it’s wonderful to work with family, on the 10th day, it is extremely difficult.
Anyone can turn into a “car guy” when surrounded by cool vehicles long enough. Even if this wasn’t the case, Tom would still be into cars. We say this with surety because we’ve seen his gorgeous truck. An 86’ Chevy Blazer, donned in an eye-catching shade of green and loads of aftermarket goodies. He first got it back in 2002 in an exchange against his shabby shop truck. Back then, it was a mere shell but now it has loads of customizations, some of which have even been accomplished in their own shop. To name a few, the truck has got a powerful motor-transmission duo, a unique high quality paint job, custom upholstery and a custom sound system as well. The wheel, tire & suspension setup is amazing, a set of huge, cool looking wheels wrapped in some chunky General Grabber tires, and there’s no way you can miss the 4’’ lift-kit. Even though this has so much already done to it, Tom has more stuff planned. This includes a perfect tune for the engine and transmission, and a new BDS lift system that will make the stance even more aggressive. It really was a diamond in the rough, and Tom has succeeded in every way to do it justice.
When 2020 started, people faced unexpected & unprecedented circumstances globally due to the pandemic, but just like most optimistic folks, everyone at Tom’s Tire Pros kept their heads up & waited to see how things would play out. Since the business is more of an everyday necessity, instead of months, they were keeping busy after only a couple of weeks. In fact they saw their all-time high in sales and activity in June. Tom is very proud of his team on both of the locations for being strong in such stressful times. Instead of getting flustered, their teamwork and spirits got even stronger, and benefited the business a great deal!
Managing such a setup is never a walk in the park. Regardless of what people think, such businesses are always full of countless hiccups which are enough to sucker punch anyone. Throughout this tedious journey, the biggest motivation and strength has been his faith and the support of his family and friends who love him and have always believed in him. He is never afraid to roll his sleeves and put in some effort for an honest and deserving reward, and his theory has always been to work hard, work smart, all while keeping his faith in God as strong as can be!