Longtime Hamilton auto repair shop sold to family member

The owner of Eric’s Auto & Tire Service is selling the longtime Hamilton business, but keeping it in the family.

Eric Pohlman has nearly 40 years in the auto service industry, the past 22 of which were at the business, which he founded. Pohlman said he had offers from other, bigger companies, but didn’t believe they would protect his seven employees, whom he called “a vital part” of the business.

Instead the 55-year-old entrepreneur opted to sell the business to his nephew, Ryan Pohlman.

“I actually think he’ll do better with it,” he said. “He’s younger. He’s got ideas (and) I think he’ll bring more to the table.”

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Eric Pohlman got his start with his father’s businesses, J&J Auto Repair and Jim’s Tire & Auto, working at both until starting Eric’s Auto & Tire Service at 1047 Millville Ave. on Hamilton’s West Side in November 1996.

The Pohlman name has been associated with auto service and tire repair since 1963, and keeping it a part of the business was important, Pohlman said. Selling it to 32-year-old Ryan, ensures quality service because he worked for his father, Jeff Pohlman, for 16 years at Jeff Pohlman Tire & Auto.

The unexpected death of Pohlman’s brother, Scott, at 60 years old in October, also contributed to the decision to sell the business.

“There’s other chapters of my life, I guess,” he said. “He’s the first one in the family who passed away, so … it kind of puts things in perspective.”

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The best part about owning Eric’s Auto & Tire has been being an entrepreneur and “going out and doing things and succeeding,” Pohlman said.

What he’ll miss the most are the friendly faces who’ve been his clientele for more than two decade, he said.

“I have some of the best customers on the west side,” Pohlman said. “That’s really the hardest thing (about selling the business).”

Pohlman's last day Dec. 31 won't be his retirement from all things auto. He'll transition fully to what has been his side gig for the past two-and-a-half years: coaching independent automotive shops via consulting firm Forming Profitable Solutions.

He has 11 shops in the Tri-State area that he coaches.

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“I’m too young for retirement,” he said. “This is the second part of my life. I love teaching. I’m going to be busy. Maybe I just won’t be as busy as I was, but I will be busy. I’m not going to sit around on the couch and watch Oprah all day.”

He compares selling the business to walking his daughter down the aisle at her wedding.

“I’m so happy for her, but when it was time to give her away, it was a little bit tough, but then I was giving her to somebody that I really trusted,” Pohlman said. “That’s what I feel like I’m doing with Ryan. It’s going to be hard to give it away, but I feel really good about him doing this. He’s keeping a lot of my procedures.”

Ryan Pohlman said he’s thankful that his uncle is giving him the opportunity.

“I love that we’re able to continue the family tradition here and have it stay local and Eric will still be involved in the business, helping me out and coaching me along the way,” he said.

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