St. Lucie Battery & Tire recently opened a new location in Sebastian, its 17th site. If the economy continues to pressure consumers, as experts predict, many will
hold onto their vehicles for a longer period of time, meaning more visits to repair shops and tire dealers.
The company’s revenue has doubled
in the past decade, and average growth
has been 10%, lower for 2020, the year
when the economy was hit by COVID-19
shutdowns. No workers were laid off during
the crunch caused by the virus. After a
dip in 2022-23 2020/2021, revenue is seen
rebounding to up 12% to 15% annually,
Miller said. His business is somewhat insulated
from economic downturns, because
as consumer spending power weakens,
people hold onto their vehicles longer,
meaning more maintenance and replacement
tires are needed. The average age of
a U.S. car rose to 13.1 years in 2021, and
pickup trucks to 11.6 years, for a combined
12.2 years, up from a combined 10.5 years
in 2010, according to S&P Global Mobility.
OVERCOMING JUNE FIRE
Doug Miller’s father, company founder
Joey Miller, 80, has largely stepped away
from day-to-day operations. Joey Miller
was in the battery business in 1968, Doug
Miller said. He says he knows that because
his father was selling batteries already
when the oldest Miller offspring, Mickey,
was born that year. So the business goes
back 54 years, even though it ceremoniously
marked the half-century mark last
year. By the time the business was incorporated
in 1976, it had been selling tires
for a few years. It was called St. Lucie Battery,
which many people called St. Lucie
Batteries, until about 1986 or 1987 when
the “& Tire” was added.
Mickey Miller is the company’s executive
vice president. Its general manager is
The business is still headquartered at
its original location on western Orange
Avenue, which in early June suffered an
intense fire that destroyed less than a fifth
of the company’s tire inventory.
“Eighteen-inch steel I-beams were
twisted and sagging. The metal roof of
the shipping and receiving area was
melted,” Doug Miller said, adding that the
intensity of the fire was increased when
an area storing small batteries caught fire.
The fire was mainly in an office section
of the business. No one was injured, but
there was more than $2 million in inventory
and building damage, he said.
The fire caused a “fairly significant business
disruption, but we’re going to figure
it out and come through better than we
are now,” Miller said.
One of the reasons St. Lucie Battery &
Tire will rebound rather quickly is that it
has three additional locations with warehousing
space, he said.
GROWTH FROM DAY ONE
The first store was its sole one until 1982
when the company opened a Port St. Lucie
store on Hancock Drive, followed by a downtown
Fort Pierce location around 1985.
An April 1987 newspaper display ad
announcing the grand opening of another
Port St. Lucie store shows the company
logo looking much the same as it does
today, with a quote in italic-type separate
from the logo: “You need a good price, but
you also need honest, reliable service…”
Today, the logo on the company’s website
slbatterytire.com includes a shortened
version of that same message: “Home of
Honest, Reliable Service.”
Mickey and Doug were essentially raised
alongside batteries and tires at their dad’s
first shop at 5500 Orange Ave.
“My brother and I were fitted for brooms
at a very young age,” he said. >>