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After 55 years, Decorah Tire has new ownership

Posted: Wed, Oct 9, 2019 2:15 PM

If you've driven past Decorah Tire on Montgomery Street lately, you might not have noticed any changes at the business, but there's been a big one.  After 55 years in operation, Decorah Tire is now owned by a company out of Dubuque, Tandem Tire.

Decorah Tire's Gary Billiet says he and partner Bruce Schuman sold the business because Bruce wanted to retire and because Tandem Tire is a locally-owned business in Dubuque which the two of them "had known them for years."  The company agreed to continue using the name "Decorah Tire" and agreed to keep the staff, including Gary Billiet, who continues to work as the manager.

Still, what had been a string of 55 years of family ownership of Decorah Tire has now come to an end.  Gary and Bruce's parents, Vern Billiet and Dick Schuman, were working in Dubuque for Goodyear Tire in 1964 and didn't even know one another.  But when the chance came to go into a partnership together for a Goodyear store in Decorah, they jumped at it.  They moved into the former Woolen Mill building in downtown Decorah, buying out a different tire business which had opened there in 1955.

Fast forward to 1992.  Gary was working for Underwriters Lab in the Chicago area, while Bruce was working for Goodyear.  When their fathers started talking about retiring, Gary and Bruce headed to Decorah and have been working together ever since.  In 1998, the business moved out of the Woolen Mill and headed for its present building on Montgomery Street.

Bruce Schuman is now retired, but Gary continues to manage Decorah Tire.  He's getting used to a new computer system, but he says Tandem Tire has done a good job of "making us happy."

Vern Billiet and Dick Schuman at the former Decorah Tire location in 1964
Gary Billiet and Bruce Schuman in front of Decorah Tire in August of 1994