Wise Tires continues to roll with next generation
By Kenneth Miller, Publisher
You have probably drove past this storefront many times and barely noticed the antiquated blue metal sign that sits just atop the O on the Uniroyal Tires lettering on the white building.
The 949 S La Brea Ave address was my destination and I passed it up myself trying to find it.
Wise Tires has been in Inglewood since 1923. The business was started by Dan Wise and his his son Dan Jr. until recently.
Wise Tires is an Inglewood institution, but when owner Dan Wise decided to sell the building and the namesake company, he wanted to make sure it was in good hands.
Inglewood native and former basketball player Nelson Batiste had worked with his father’s automotive repair shop that had been established for 40 years, but the owner of their Century and Prairie Ave. location sold and the Batiste family did not have right of first refusal.
Both small Inglewood businesses had five star ratings, but heading in vastly different directions. One seeking a new location and the other perhaps closing its doors for good.
However, what Wise discovered in Nelson Batiste and his wife Lindsay six months ago was capable caretakers of the long standing tire store that was as trusted a business there is in the city.
“We saw that Dan Wise deal had fell out, we were looking on LoopNet because we wanted to stay in Inglewood. When we saw that Dan Wise building came up for sale again we came over to speak to him personally,” Nelson explained.
The couple introduced themselves to Wise and he later went to their shop to meet Nelson’s father and at that point Wise was impressed in what he saw and wanted a family to take over his family business. Not just any family but a Black family. Wise is white.
“I think it was important to him. He was very ecstatic when he saw that a young Black man was running a shop and that we had been in business for 40 years. I think he did his background check on us too because we both had five star ratings. I think it was important that it was a minority owned business,” he added.
Nelson initially got into the business because he quit playing basketball at California State University Stanislaus in Northern California, so he came back home to Inglewood because as he said he had no reason to be there anymore.
“When I came home and after finishing my degree at Cal State Dominguez Hills (with a degree in business management and entrepreneurial strategies, also with a minor in public administration), my dad sat down with me and said son I need some help.”
Nelson hesitated at first, waffling on whether or not he wanted to go and work for his father auto repair shop, but decided to do it.
Living with his sister at the time, he needed the job to help pay rent so he also got a job working at LAX working graveyard and then work for his dad during the day time.
It was while working at LAX he met his wife Lindsay who works side by side with him.
He says that he would get a lot of requests from customers for tires while in the automotive shop, but it was not his primary business.
So, it wasn’t until he met Wise that tires became his primary business.
“It’s not too far off from what we were doing. All we do is check the plaque in the door and ask them what brand they want.”
Wise Tires offers mostly new tires, wheel alignments and high speed balances, breaks and suspensions with a plan to incorporate automotive as well.
Nelson has Lindsay to thank for encouraging him to run his own business when he took over ownership of his father’s business in 2004.
The first six years was a struggle, he didn’t make any money and was forced to live off his savings.
His family which included two kids at the time has since swelled to five, a 20 year old, a 15 year old, a 7 year old, a 3-year old and a one year old for the 44-year old business owner. Nelson and his wife have been together for 20 years.
Nelson wants the community to know that Wise Tires is stable and as old as Disneyland, but still promises you the ride of your life.