Pat’s Tire Service on Erie Boulevard celebrates its 65th year in business in 2018.
Owned and operated today by Larry and Sue Casalenuovo, the store first opened in 1953 under Larry’s father, Pasquale.
Pat’s Tire Service began as a retread shop out of the back of an automotive dealer in South Rome.
“My father went into the service for a few years,” Larry explained, “and when he came back out, he wanted to go work for Tony,” referring to Tony Pettinelli of the former Pettinelli Motors on Martin Street.
“Tony said ‘well, I want to sell the business.’ You know, he was up in years. So, my father bought it.”
Pat’s Tire Service would continue to operate out of the Pettinelli building for its first few years, before relocating to an old railroad building along the tracks parallel to Erie Boulevard West.
After the move, Pat’s Tires would continue to evolve into the specialty shop it is today. Originally, the shop offered its retread services to passenger vehicles.
“The problem is, we got to the point where we were buying a new tire for cheaper than the process cost for retreads,” said Larry. “So, what we did was stick with retreading of truck tires.”
Retreading tires for commercial vehicles, said Larry, allowed for a fair deal for the consumer and a profit for the family business.
Larry’s father Pasquale Casalenuovo would run the shop until 1987, when he passed away.
A Family Affair
After settling into their west side location, Pat’s developed its reputation for family service. “My mother worked right with him in the retread shop,” said Larry. “She worked like the guys.”
Larry’s mother, Mary Casalenuovo, passed away in 2016. In her life, she was a fixture of the shop floor and embodied the family ethos that has kept Pat’s Tires in business for 65 years.
“She started in 1956, and she worked right by his side — just like me and my wife,” he added.
Even after her retirement in 2013, Mary Casalenuovo stayed close to the family business. “Obviously she’d come down to see what we were doing wrong,” Larry joked.
“This is where she wanted to be,” added Sue. “She’d come down and see the customers, and that’s what she loved.”
The Next Generation
Pat’s Tire Service in its 65th year — outfitted with specialized, often computerized retreading equipment — is a far cry from the hole-in-the-wall that opened on Martin Street in 1953.
“Retreading used to be a lot harder, a lot more labor intensive than it is now,” explained Larry. “It’s all computerized,” he says, in reference to the inspection processes in the retread shop.
Despite this, Larry remains connected to his company’s humble past. “I’m from the old school,” he explains on the shop floor. “If I buff a tire, I do it the old way.”
Indeed, he’s been doing it “the old way” since his childhood. “I started piddling at 12 years old,” Larry reminisces. “I got in everybody’s way, you know, but I had fun.”
Even as the retreading process enters the digital age and “the old way” is phased out, Larry is confident in his shop’s reliability and the know-how of his staff. “My guys are seasoned,” he says proudly, with a caveat: “I’m not going to say they’re like me, no.”
“But they’re very close.”