Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Lakeport Tire and Auto Service sold to new owners

LAKEPORT, Calif. — Lakeport Tire and Auto Service has a long history in Lakeport.

Originally started in 1967, it was later purchased by Bill Wolfe in the early 1970s.

Toni Funderburg and her husband Bob purchased it in 1993 from her cousin Bill Wolfe and expanded it to a full-service automotive repair shop.

Like most small business owners, their business was their second home. In fact, their son Derek has many of his childhood portraits taken there with tools and tires.

Great customer service and innovation were tools that allowed the business to thrive. Toni Funderburg identified and implemented cutting edge software that allowed the shop’s skilled technicians to take photos of the cars during the inspection and email the inspection report, including the photos, to the customers so they can see what is good and what needs to be serviced on their vehicle.

When the forest fires triggered rolling outages, Bob Funderburg purchased a shop-wide generator so the customers could get their cars back when promised regardless of outages.

Wreaths Across America, Toys for Tots, Boy Scouts, and Delta Iota Tau are a few of the charities that benefited from Toni Funderburg’s energy and Lakeport Tire and Auto Service resources.

While not strictly business related, it fulfilled Bob and Toni’s belief that businesses are part of a community and should find ways to give back.

In 2019 Bob and Toni started thinking about retiring. However, rather than just selling the business and moving on, they wanted “the right buyer,” one that would maintain the features that were most important to them in running the business.

That meant they would need to find a buyer who would provide quality customer service and be part of the community. They were fortunate to find a broker who was willing to work with them to find “the right buyer.” Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Fortunately, the innovations implemented in the shop allowed business to continue but the pandemic really slowed the sale of the business.

Although several parties were interested in Lakeport Tire and Auto Service, none of them were “the right buyer.”

In March of 2021 Bob and Toni went to visit their sons in Tucson. During that getaway, their broker called to let them know some people were interested in their business and they lived in Mesa, Arizona. After several emails back and forth, Bob and Toni let the broker know they were in Arizona and would be near Mesa the next day. The broker was able to arrange for everyone to meet for lunch. Everyone clicked and the quick lunch lasted three hours.

The next weekend Steve and Kathleen Short came to Lakeport to check out the business and the area. They were impressed by both the business and the community. They sent pictures and told their kids about Library Park, Park Restaurant and Marcel's Bakery.

Kathleen Short loved the small town feel like her own rural hometown in Oregon. Steve loved the lake as being on the water is “his happy place.”

After looking at other options, Steve and Kathleen Short decided Lakeport Tire and Auto Service would be a good fit. The Funderburgs agreed and the legal aspects of selling the business began.

On Sept. 10, 2021, after a few hurdles, Steve and Kathleen Short became the new owners of Lakeport Tire and Auto Service. They retained all the employees and worked to continue the business.

The Funderburgs stayed on for another three months to help with the transition.

Steve and Kathleen Short bring a wealth of business experience to Lakeport Tire and Auto Service.

Steve Short is a 14-year U.S. Marine Corps veteran, with a master’s degree in marketing. He has owned successful businesses before, was the founder of a boating equipment company in 1995 and is a former champion powerboat racer.

His automotive service experience comes from being the executive director for sales and dealer training for a large automotive manufacturer. In that role, he was responsible for training hundreds of automotive service dealers like Lakeport Tire and Auto Service.

Lakeport and Clear Lake are a perfect place for an avid boater, and Steve is excited to spend free time on the water.

Kathleen Short is an accountant and owns her own full-cycle accounting firm, Vista Accounting Solutions. Many of the clients are remote giving tremendous flexibility. She has also taken an active role in the future of Lakeport Tire and Auto Service. Kathleen loves her Rhodesian Ridgebacks, taking them to both shows and lure coursing.

Bob and Toni Funderburg are excited for the Short family and wish them well with the business that has meant so much to them.

They will miss working with their customers and thank them for their patronage over many years but they are feeling overwhelmingly comfortable that the customers and their vehicles will be taken care of in the trustworthy way they deserve.

The Shorts are excited about business and the community and ways to help both.

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