In its 61st year in business, family-owned & Frederick-based Rice Tire is still growing – opening a 6,000 square ft. addition at their Tilco Drive facility just last month.
The company’s expanded building features five new truck bays and a dramatically increased parking area to accommodate the turning radius of large commercial vehicles. As an additional benefit of the new construction, the Tilco location now features two showrooms – one catering specifically to commercial business, and one newly designated exclusively for retail customers.
With nearly 200 employees serving 10 locations across the Mid-Atlantic region, Rice Tire has come a long way from its origins as a one-man shop on Frederick’s South Market Street. Donald B. Rice initially started his business as a Gulf Service Station in 1929. In 1956, realizing an opportunity to service the growing local market for large construction and commercial vehicles, Mr. Rice pivoted his business model and founded the current 'Rice Tire.' The store was relocated to East Frederick in 1960, and again in 1969 – to its present day location as Rice Tire’s corporate office at 909 North East Street.
While passing down from family-member to family-member, the company has grown and adapted to the economic climates of the time. Current President and grandson-in-law of Donald B. Rice, Chris Chase described how over the years Rice Tire has juggled changing demands in commercial, retail, and wholesale tire markets. Eleven years ago Rice Tire sold five retail locations in Frederick, shifting focus locally to commercial business. “It can be a challenge to mix commercial and retail in one location. You’re responding to two different sets of needs and expectations, and in the same showroom that can be tricky.”
Nevertheless, the retail component in Frederick was preserved at Tilco Drive. “We find that a lot of the guys bringing in trucks while on the job like our work and become so comfortable doing business with us that they want to bring in their families’ vehicles.” The recently installed showroom excitingly will allow his company to focus on the two distinct client-bases right here in Frederick-- expanding both sides of business even more. Mr. Chase commented that Rice Tire is already one of the biggest Good Year Dealers in the nation.
Mr. Chase credits much of Rice Tire’s longevity and success to “a loyal employee base” – over a fourth of which are currently Frederick-based. “Maggie Buckholtz, our Vice President of Purchasing has been with the company for 41 years. We also have many 20 year-plus employees,” Mr. Chase happily notes. Consistent, high quality work from their employees has been critical to the business and has sustained growth - like the new expansion- in Frederick and beyond.