CLARION, PA (EYT) – Everyone has heard of someone who is called a “jack of all trades” when he is practically good at everything or seems to do a bit of everything. For Knox native James Kerle, being a generalist at Kerle Tire Company Inc. in Clarion is another way of saying being insightful in all areas of the family business.
(This is an ongoing series focused on young professionals in Clarion County. Photos by Dave Cyphert of ProPoint Media Photography)
A staple of Clarion for approximately 50 years, Kerle Tire Company Inc. has grown over the years and is currently the employer of 35 workers. Second- and third-generation Kerle family members call the business home, with current owners Dan Kerle and Lee Kerle learning the ropes from their father and the original family member who incorporated the company. company, the late James “Jim” Kerle who did so in 1974.
“I literally keep his business card by my bed and I keep another one in my office as well,” 24-year-old James Kerle said. “It’s a little daily reminder of all the hard work he put into everything. That drive and doing it alongside your family is so rare and so special to me.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as James’ father, Dan, works seven days a week most of the time to ensure the business continues to operate in line with the family’s expectations. Growing up and seeing his father’s long working hours and learning how his grandfather worked two full-time jobs, James strived to achieve more.
At the age of just 12, he began his professional career at the tire shop as a laborer and store associate. Truly, there is no better introduction to knowing a business than being a laborer or working in retail. These experiences have helped him understand the ins and outs of business which he can now apply in a leadership role at Kerle Tire.
After finishing his days at Keystone Junior-Senior High School in 2016, he enrolled at Clarion University to study business, as well as nutrition and fitness for a while. Nutrition and fitness remain one of his many passions to this day, but after some time as a student at Clarion University, Kerle realized he was ready to pursue his pursuits. Business Studies. This resulted in the completion of three degrees in four years, with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management, Marketing and Human Resources.
He accomplished this through his hard work in high school, taking courses up to BC3 which transferred to Clarion University, while taking summer courses to meet all three degree requirements.
However, his studies did not stop in 2020 as he enrolled in Clarion University’s online Master of Business Administration (MBA), which he will complete this summer. Truly, there was no other school Kerle considered, as staying home allowed him to continue to leverage his business background both in the classroom and in the family business.
“I would go to work between 3 and 5 a.m. and do certain things before going to class,” Kerle said of his undergraduate studies at Clarion University. “Business was always a natural calling for me because I was always around and my dad was always talking about it.”
Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Kerle once helped start a consulting firm called Clarion Consulting Association, a business that provided him with valuable additional experience in the business world, including a large project at Brookville Equipment Company. Although he has since moved on, this experience has served him well and allowed him to think about business in different ways.
Today, his duties for Kerle Tire Company include retail sales, digital marketing, logistics and supervisory duties. Really, there’s almost no job he hasn’t been trained to do outside of being a wholesale driver across the state for the company. Although he is ready to fulfill and complete that part of the business if ever called upon to do so.
For a business to succeed for nearly 50 years, it takes both the hard work of many employees and the support of the community, for which Kerle is grateful.
“This community is so supportive. Everyone is so friendly and people know me because of my job. I made a lot of good friends through the business.
It also allowed him to grow as a person and see his cousins Cody and Kyle do the same in their retail roles. However, his cousins aren’t the only people he credits for helping the company grow. When his father Dan added the momentum of becoming a wholesale tire supplier, the business flourished in a way they had never seen before. Now, Kerle Tire distributes tires daily throughout Western Pennsylvania while continuing to thrive in the retail space with five on-site warehouses stocked with virtually every size and type of tire and wheel imaginable.
“I think that’s our competitive advantage,” Kerle said. “Having this massive number of tires and pairing that with the level of service we can provide is what I think sets us apart.”
Although many of his role models are members of his immediate family, he credits his high school football coach, Dan Reed, with being another key mentor in his life who helped him grow stronger. mentally.
“When something goes wrong, I think back to some characteristics he tried to instill in his players, like when struggles get real, listening to the little voice in the back of your mind to keep going.”
This mentality is something he continues to bring daily in his role at Kerle Tire. Certainly, when you work in a company, a lot of things will and can go wrong. However, through a strong work ethic, strong family tradition, upbringing and plenty of community support, James Kerle is continuing the excellence that Kerle Tire Inc. has brought to Clarion County for nearly five decades; something he hopes will be possible for many years to come.
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