A change of hands
Customers at Blue Earth Tire will not be seeing any major changes in the operation at the business located on South Main Street except for one thing.
The person in charge.
Long-time owner Loren “Willie” Prescher recently sold the business to Kevin Krieger, a life-long resident of the Blue Earth area.
“I have known Willie all my life,” Krieger says. “My family has done business with him for years. And I knew Willie was thinking about retiring. We started talking about this purchase last summer and now, here we are as of March 15, I took over ownership.”
Krieger had been employed in the sales department of Kibble Equipment, formerly Detke Morbac, where he had worked since 1996.
Krieger grew up in Blue Earth, graduated from Blue Earth High School and attended college at Mankato State University.
He and his wife, Margaret, have two children; Monica, who is in college in Iowa, and Brian, 16. Margaret is an elementary teacher in the Granada-Huntley-East Chain school system.
The new Blue Earth Tire owner says he keeps getting asked about any changes he has planned, and he answers that any changes will be subtle.
“We are keeping the same name, Blue Earth Tire,” he says. “And we will still be a Goodyear tire dealer.”
Everyone also asks about mechanic Tim Woodwick and whether he will still be at the business.
“The answer to that question is a big ‘yes,'” Krieger says. “Tim has worked here at Blue Earth Tire for the past 13 years and he is an integral part of this business in fact, he is the ‘main man.'”
Another thing that will not change is the fact that Blue Earth Tire offers full service at their gas pumps out in front of the business.
“We plan on continuing to do this service as long as we can,” Krieger says. “In fact, we may increase the hours of service at some point.”
He adds that there is a large number of customers of Blue Earth Tire, especially older persons, who appreciate this service very much, and so they will continue pumping gas, washing windshields and checking tires.
“We have people who come here from out of town just because we offer this service,” Krieger says. “There is a man who is on crutches who lives near Delavan who thanks us for doing this for him every time he stops in.”
The full service gas pump was something Prescher started from the moment he bought the business and has continued ever since.
It was back in 1972 that Prescher first started working at the service station, which was then owned and operated by the Faribault County Co-op Oil Association.
“I had been working here for 10 years when it went out of business in 1982,” Prescher recalls. “They offered it to me and in 1982 I bought it and I have been here ever since until I sold it to Kevin.”
Prescher immediately changed the name to Blue Earth Tire and the operation has remained much the same since he took over ownership.
“I have always had a mechanic working for me,” Prescher explains. “There have been several of them over the years. But, Tim (Woodwick) has been with me for the past 13 years. He has been a very important part of the business and has been very easy to work with.”
Another important part of the business for Prescher has been his wife, Barb, who has done the bookwork for the past few years. Krieger says his wife will eventually take over those duties, as well, at some point.
Blue Earth Tire customers have still been seeing former owner Prescher around the business even with the change in ownership.
“I have been staying here to help Kevin for a while, making the transition easier,” Prescher says. “I’ve got to help him learn the business. He can’t learn it all in a week that took me 40 years to learn.”
Prescher says there have been a lot of changes in the business since he first took over ownership, mainly because of the difference in vehicles these days, from years past.
“We used to do engine overhauls at 100,000 miles,” Prescher says. “Now, with proper maintenance they are good for at least 200,000 miles. If you take care of your car it will last and last.”
Both Prescher and Krieger have some good advice about making tires last longer, too.
“You need to maintain proper air pressure, year round,” Prescher says.
“And you need to routinely rotate tires,” Krieger adds. “It is a service we provide for anyone who does not do it themselves. We plan to keep an eye on tire wear when a customer’s car comes in for service.”
The new Blue Earth Tire owner says rotating tires on a regular schedule can make a dramatic difference in tire wear and lengthen the life of tires.
The two men also agree on something else. That it is a good thing for this local business to continue to be around to serve the community of Blue Earth and the area.
“I have had many people congratulate me and thank me for buying the business and continuing to serve the community,” Krieger says.
And, Prescher says a big part of the business has been the customers who have come into Blue Earth Tire.
“I want to thank everyone for their support over the years,” Prescher says. “I want to say thank you, Blue Earth. One thing I will really miss is visiting with all the people who stop in here.”
As for the future, Prescher says he has plenty of hobbies including doing scroll saw woodworking to keep him busy.
“And Barb and I plan on doing a bit of traveling to see the kids and grandkids,” he adds. “I am looking forward to retirement and that first social security check coming in the mail.”