“Tommy Bears” Help Put a Smile on Children’s Faces at Bluffton Pediatrics

by Megan Watson   Anyone who knows Tom Dotson of Tommy Tire Sales knows he loves his communities.  While Dotson, his wife and two daughters reside in Vaughnsville, he also thinks of the communities surrounding his three tire shops – Ada, Bluffton and Toledo – as his second home.  The goal of his business is to sell tires, but, for Dotson, it goes much further than just rubber and rims.  He wants each community to know that he fully supports those that live there, especially the kids. 
   Last week, Tommy Tire Sales donated 200 teddy bears to Bluffton Pediatrics.  “As a company in whole, we typically spend 20 to 30 grand a year in advertising. I love thinking outside the box. Writing a check to someone for your name to be on a poster or a t-shirt seems too easy, ineffective and unoriginal to me. I put a lot of time and thought into the ways I spend my advertising dollars.”
   When it comes to advertising, Dotson says he tries to come up with ideas that will not only grow his business but also help a person in need or the community as a whole.
   Dotson started Tommy Tire Sales just six years ago from the ground up. 
   “It's tough starting not only a business in a town you're not from, but it is especially hard starting a tire business. I've always said ... I sell the one thing in town no one wants. I typically don't get people filled with joy and excitement to purchase tires,” said Dotson. 
   He doesn't let those challenges stop him.  By choosing to do things such as donate teddy bears, support 4H kids, and sponsor family fun days, Dotson is able to make people smile when they think of buying tires.  Many of his customers find that their children love sitting in the shop’s colorful office, while their parents await service.
   It is clear in the choices that Dotson has made that he cares about much more than how many tires are purchased. 
   “I came up with the idea years ago. If I can win the heart of a child, I can win the heart of their parent. That’s why throughout the years we’ve given out balloons, beach balls and frisbies to kids who enter our shop. Donating these bears, I hoped for minimal advertising but maximum inspiration for other business owners to do more,” said Dotson.
   Bish was quick to accept the offer of “Tommy Bears.”  “They comfort kids who are feeling lousy.  Parents appreciate Mr. Dotson’s donation too.  Everyone is happier than when they first arrived at the office, and that’s a great thing to see,” says Bish.  The owner of a tire shop and nurse practitioner do not seem like a likely team, but Dotson and Bish shared a common goal - make sick kids smile, and together they have done just that.