Jim Ohnstad will always remember Little Irvy. It was 1985 and to celebrate OK Tire’s 25th anniversary, Ohnstad’s father paid Tyrone Malone $300 to bring Irvy, a frozen 20-ton, 38-foot long whale captured in the Pacific, to Fargo. Malone housed Irvy in a 40-foot refrigerated semi trailer built to allow spectators to walk through and see Irvy’s massive size. “School buses would come around the clock to see Irvy,” Ohnstad said. The celebration also included food and a live band.
“And here we are 25 years later,” Ohnstad says. OK Tire is celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. Ohnstad’s father acquired what was then OK Tire Rubber Welders in 1960. In 1995, Ohnstad took over as acting president. There are currently seven locations under the OK Tire name in Fargo, Bismarck, Carrington, Minot and Motley. Ohnstad hopes to open a third store in Fargo.
Ohnstad credits his employees with the success of his business. “Our greatest asset is our people.” The company overall has approximately 170 employees, many of whom have been with the company for years. “Longevity is one our strengths,” Ohnstad says. In Fargo, there are about 82 full and part time employees working at the commercial center on 38th Street North and the automotive center on Main Avenue.
The emphasis on people translates into OK Tire’s business practices as well. One of the services Ohnstad offers is wholesale AC Delco automotive parts marketed under a separate division called OK Automotive WD. OK Automotive’s territory includes all of North Dakota, 200 miles in to Montana and as far into Minnesota as Bemidji. Rather than ship these parts, Ohnstad sends drivers out on weekly trips. “They call the customer to see if there’s anything they need. They then build the route by phone
and personally deliver the product,” Ohnstad says. “It helps build personal relationships with the customers.”
Other OK Tire services include tire sales, tire repairs, agricultural parts and tracks for farm equipment. No matter what service or product the company is offering, Ohnstad knows he couldn’t do it without his employees. “A manager told me once he saw the store as ‘his baby.’ I liked that,” Ohnstad says. “I want my employees to feel like this company is their own. When you have good employees that feel that closeness, it’s easy.”
Celebrate 50 Years with OK Tire!
OK Tire is celebrating all year long. Celebrations include the 22nd annual OK Tire Round-Up Show-n-Shine car show on June 10 and Trucker Appreciation Days on June 24.
Can’t make it to one of these events? Stop and congratulate OK Tire on 50 years in business at 2224 Main Avenue, Fargo.