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Lauren Young Looks Back Over 50 Years of Business in Roseburg

8:07 PM · Apr 19, 2021

When Lauren and Dena Young moved to Roseburg in 1969 they took a chance building a new business in a new place. Time has proved the Lauren Young Tire Centers are a success story emblematic of the American dream and show how the Youngs have made an impact on the community. It all started when Lauren purchased an OK Rubber Welders in Lakeview, Oregon in 1960 with no prior tire knowledge. “I knew if you drove your car, they would wear out, ” Lauren said. “I went in green and didn’t know a lot about tires. I was in the wood business previously. I did it because I wanted a better business. I was looking around for a service station and we made a deal.” At the time, tire guru Les Schwab was supplying tires to the previous owner, Art Morton of the OK Rubber in Lakeview. Les called up Lauren and asked him if he was going to pay for the unpaid inventory in his store. “When we got into the tire business 60 years ago, I got to know Les Schwab,” Lauren said. “He was very upset, that I was buying out the old Rubber Welders business. I got to know him, got him calmed down and we became pretty darn good friends.” Sometime early on, Les told Lauren to hire a good bookkeeper so he hired his wife, Dena. In 1969 Lauren sold his tire center in Lakeview to Les Schwab and moved his family to Roseburg to open the store on NE Stephens. Before moving to Roseburg he met opposition from Les Schwab, his wife Dena and a major tire dealer in town. The NE Stephens location was a long way from downtown in 1969 and that was why Schwab didn’t approve but Lauren moved forward anyway. “When I was looking for a place to build a store, I met with the Chamber of Commerce manager,” Lauren said. “He told me I didn’t have a chance if I came here because the president of the chamber owned the Goodyear tire dealership. I was kind of bullheaded myself. After I built the store, the Chamber manager came to congratulate me, I said I remember you, because you said we wouldn’t last six months.” There are 445 Les Schwab corporate stores and only 54 independent dealers. “This was a bold move on their part. If they weren’t successful, they would have lost it all.” Les Schwab said in his book, “Les Schwab Pride In Performance.” Today the Lauren Young Tire Center is the oldest independent member dealer in Les Schwab company history. “Les and Dorothy, we were good friends with them. Looking back, Roseburg has just been a blessing to us.” Dena said. Les Schwab would send Lauren and Dena about two hand-typed letters a week with business advice and friendly banter. One letter Les wrote on December 23, 1988 said “Lauren, Congratulations on the great month of November. I often think back to when you started in Lakeview. I think you’re going to make it now…both of us. A Merry Christmas to you, Dena and the whole crew.” Lauren and Dena would go on to build and open a tire center in Tri-City in 1975. They are about to break ground on a new store in Tri-City replace the current location. “I didn’t think about anything but one location when I started, but I saw the need down in South county to do business down there when I built a store in Tri-City.” Lauren said. They later purchased Carter Tire on North Umpqua Hwy in 1979 which at the time was a retread facility. Today, this location serves as the main commercial store, servicing everything from all-terrain vehicles to cars to tractors to the giant log stackers at the local mills. The Sutherlin location opened in 1999 and was then sold to Lauren’s daughter and son-in-law, Carla and Scott Cameron. Lauren’s grandson TJ Cameron is the General Manager of the three stores that they own. There are 50 employees between the three locations with another 11 employees at the Sutherlin location. “It’s a good feeling, that we’ve been able to provide them that opportunity.” Dena said. On top of the opportunities, they have provided for their family, they share the company profit in a cash bonus with their employees. “Our employee retention, we share our profit in a cash bonus with our employees,” Dena said. “It’s kind of exciting for the younger employees. We go over the profit and loss statement, and they understand that everything they do makes a difference. It’s exciting to see them grow in the business education.” Lauren Young's Tire Center's employee retirement program speaks to the character of the Youngs and how they give back to their employees. The company adds 25% to an employee’s total wages and puts that amount into their retirement savings. So, if an employee makes $70,000 in wages, their retirement contribution for the year is $17,500. They’ve had the pension program since the first year they started in Roseburg. “Lauren has really practiced ‘Building People.’ His Lauren Young Trust Fund, for his employees, has been extremely successful. Even more successful than our plan,” Les Schwab said in his book, “Les Schwab Pride in Performance.” Although the couple is semi-retired they still enjoy going into the office five days a week. Lauren and Dena Young’s decision to move to Roseburg wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

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