SURREY — After more than a half-century in the tire business, Tom Erickson says it’s time to retire.
He’s been in that area of Surrey for five years, inside the Corvette Specialties Auto Group shop owned by his longtime car-business buddy Bruce Iggulden, after moving from Whalley early this decade.
“It’s just time to move on, and I don’t want to do another five-year lease,” Erickson said with a smile on Friday (Dec. 22), his final day in business. “This is just easier, you know.”
Iggulden calls it a “communal showroom” on the corner lot he owns, across from the SkyTrain station, where Scott Road meets King George Boulevard.
“Tommy was up in skid row on a month-to-month deal, and when I found that out I said to him, ‘Get out of there and come down here,’” Iggulden recalled. “He needed something better, not just one-month deals. And having him here for the past five years has been an absolute pleasure. It’s a perfect fit, but I guess he figures it’s time to move on.”
Erickson was 12 when he first worked at the OK Tire shop his father ran at Main Street and 32nd Avenue in Vancouver.
“I wanted money, and I got $2 a day,” remembered Erickson, who grew up in the Fleetwood area.
By the mid-1970s, he was on staff at Canadian Cash & Carry tire centre in Burnaby, where he remained for two decades before opening his own shop.
“Even back then, Bruce urged me to go out on my own. He’s been a good ass-kicker for me,” Erickson said.
“More than anything, I was just done with (crossing) the Pattullo Bridge every day,” he added, “and when I was young I went to boys school in Burnaby, from Fleetwood, by bus, every day over that bridge. So after that I was just happy to look at that bridge and not have to drive over it.”
As for the business name, that came easy.
“When I worked at Canadian Cash & Carry, I’d phone people and say, ‘Hello, this is Tom from Canadian Cash & Carry, blah blah blah,’ but I just started saying, ‘Hello, this is Tom the tire guy,’ and it just stuck. And I guess it kind of coincided with Tim the Tool Man (from the TV show Home Improvement), that era. It was just easier.”
Iggulden said he’s known Erickson “for a hundred years” – give or take a few.
“I’m still trying to get him in here one day a week, but he said to me, ‘Sure, I’m gonna come down here and work one day a week, from 11 to 1, but that’s it,” Iggulden said with a laugh.
“But really, I’m going to open up a new tire store in here. We used to sell tires before Tommy got here but I gave that up when he started selling them. I said to him, ‘I came up with a new name and it’s Tom Re-Tire, or Tom the Re-Tired Guy, something like that.’”
With nine grandkids, Erickson figures it’s time to do some other things in life.
“I’m gonna miss it,” he insisted. “Mostly the people, you know. You have to treat everyone a little different, and that’s OK. Some are bit more finicky and others are just cool with everything. It’s a game, and the money part is just life.”
As for Iggulden, it’s not his time to retire just yet.
“My son Dustin will move in here and take over the mechanical shop for Corvette Specialties, so I’m kind of retiring out of that,” he said.
“I’ll never fully retire, I guess,” Iggulden added. “For me, retirement is doing what you want to do when you want to do it, and I’m there now.”