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Navigating Inflation: Nik Dumin grapples with increased costs at his Tyrone auto repair shop

Nik Dumin general manager of Tyrone Tire & Automotive.
Alicia Chiang
News Lab at Penn State
Nik Dumin, 30, is a local Tyrone resident and general manager of Tyrone Tire & Automotive.

Nik Dumin, 30, finds keeping his shop up and running has become more expensive than it was two years ago.

Nik moved to Tyrone in his early 20s. He and a friend would buy vehicles, fix them up in his cousin’s garage, and sell them. They would calculate their expenses and then split the profits.

Nik started working on cars at 14. He worked summers and a few years after school at Valley Auto Service in Altoona and eventually had jobs at Ford, Hyundai and Mazda dealerships. But flipping cars made him want his own shop.

Nik opened Tyrone Tire & Automotive in 2017. He was the sole employee.

Today, he’s focused on keeping his employees happy as much as his customers. But, from the fluctuating costs of materials to the need to raise wages, small business ownership has proven challenging.

Supply chain issues cause shortages.

Parts cost more.

Hourly wage expectations are nearly double.

The increased cost of labor and parts has forced him to split the difference with his customers when it comes to the rising cost of services. The biggest jump since he opened his shop in 2017 has been the price of an oil change. He’s increased it as the cost of oil has gone up, doubling the price from $40 to $80.

Other parts, such as brakes and tires, have become more expensive to purchase from suppliers.

And while the costs of some of these materials have gone sky high, Nik said, quality has taken a plunge with some parts wearing out a lot quicker than they should.

Nik Dumin
Alicia Chiang
News Lab at Penn State
Nik Dumin, general manager of Tyrone Tire & Automotive, says he's trying to keep workers and customers happy as costs go up.

“There’s not a tire that I feel comfortable selling that I could say, ‘Hey, this tire is good for 60,000,’ because it's not even close.”

Worker retention has also been a concern.

Watching his own family navigate the economy, Nik understands that his workers are struggling, too. Raising wages has been crucial to keeping his higher-level technicians on his auto crew.

Nik tries to keep his loyal customers in the know and happy with services like a car report card and a digital vehicle inspection. But, he knows he offers an essential service.

When someone needs their car fixed, they must find a way to pay for it.

Read the rest of the profiles of Tyrone area residents Navigating Inflation.

Abby Chachoute is a student reporter for the News Lab at Penn State.