Craig Tilleman of Tilleman Motor Co.spoke at the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce’s 105th annual meeting Wednesday about his business’ long history in Havre.
In 1977, Tilleman’s father, Mike Tllleman, decided to change his career — from playing in the National Football League — coming back to Chinook to sell real estate. Instead, he bought Taylor Motor Co. and began selling GM vehicles.
In 1979 he then bought Angstman Motors in Havre, and moved his business there.
In 1980, he bought an old motorcycle store where Tilleman Motor now is located, but that year was a bad one for selling cars, Craig Tilleman said. That was the year Tilleman found out Santa Claus was not real, he said jokingly to the crowd. There were no presents at Christmas that year because his parents needed all the money they had to keep the company afloat.
In 1985, after things started looking up, his mother started a Budget Rent-A-Car branch in Havre.
After graduating high school in 1987, Craig Tilleman left Havre to attend college and in 1998 returned to Havre to run the family business.
The business has grown from three employees at its beginning to 60 full-time employees and has seen six remodelings since opening day, Tilleman said.
“We have a great team of people … ,” Tilleman said. “We’re lucky we live in a wonderful community.”
Tilleman spoke about the community sometimes hearing about troubles with businesses and offered attendees of the meeting advice from his father:
“If you don’t fail once in a while, you’re not trying hard enough.”