L.P. Anderson Point S Tire & Automotive Service, Billings, is the recipient of the State Farm Family Business award in the Small Business category, presented by the MSU Jake Jabs College of Business & Entrepreneurship.
The company, which is as well-known as any landmark in Billings, is now being run by the third generation of the Bonogofsky family. It started as the Custom Tire Company in Billings in 1958, which was founded by L. P. Anderson.
Anderson hired Frank Bonogofsky to manage the store. It wasn’t long before Frank and L.P. were co-owners.
In 1962, they moved the store to 3741 Montana Avenue, and renamed it L. P. Anderson Tire Company to emphasize the updated equipment and improved customer service that would come to define the store.
Frank eventually bought out the interests of L.P. and of his brother, Giles, as well as a few other shareholders, so he could become its sole proprietor.
Frank’s son, Thomas, began working at the tire store when he was 12. By the time he was 26-years-old he bought his first shares in the business. In 1993, Thomas and his wife, Debra Munson Bonogofsky, decided to buy his father’s shares.
The new Bonogofsky team updated the business to a computer-based accounting and inventory system, and expanded inventory and mechanic services. In 1998, they joined the Northwest Tire Factory Group, a buying group of over 150 independent tire dealers who were looking for a way to compete with big box stores like Walmart and Costco. By forming a cooperative, they were able to offer customers discounts similar to the national chains, while still providing the best customer service in town.
Debra managed all the financial, advertising, and bookkeeping aspects of the business, while Thomas managed all the inventory, employee supervision, and sales aspects. Together they increased sales four-fold over the next twenty years.
In 2006, it had become clear that their daughter, Amber, would be marrying a childhood friend, Jared McDermott. Jared began working at L.P. in 2007, and quickly learned the customer-service techniques that had kept customers coming back over the years. With his bachelor’s degree in finance, he brought a unique management style that suited employees.
Amber, like her father, worked for the business since childhood. She enjoys working with the customers, and also does the bookkeeping, and serves as social media manager.
She and Jared decided to take over the business when her parents retired.
Thomas died unexpectedly in 2014, which brought about some challenges to the business, but also some blessings, among them a merger with the Point S Cooperative, which gives the company increased buying power and more access to inventory. They have also opened a second location on the west end of Billings.
There is now a fourth generation of Bonogofsky – Liam, 5 and Lila, 3. Whether they will carry on the legacy of the family business is yet to be seen.