By Carol Kinsley

“Treat every car like it’s your mom’s car.” That’s the motto by which Dawn Tilghman has operated Burnett White Tire Pros since she bought the business in 2003. “Our philosophy is simple: we never promise more than we can deliver, and we always give the customer more than they expect,” she said. 

Burnett White Tire Pros is one of the leading auto repair shops in Salisbury, long ago advancing beyond tire service to oil changes, brake repair, wheel alignment, or just about anything in-between.

“Our auto repair shop is capable of servicing a variety of makes and models,” Dawn said. “Whether you drive a passenger car, medium-sized truck, mini-van or SUV, our mechanics strive to ensure that your vehicle will be performing at its best before leaving one of our service bays. Our mechanics always have the best interests of our customers in mind.”

Burnett-White Tire Pros features a large selection of tires from top quality brands such as Continental, Michelin, BFGoodrich, Nitto Tire and more. In addition to automobile and truck tires, Burnett White also services the agricultural and construction industry. Dawn said, “If tire work is needed on a combine, a farm tractor or a rubber-tired backhoe, we send out a crew that is able to make repairs in the field – on the job site.”

Dawn learned about cars at a young age, working with her father for 10 years before buying the business. David Tilghman had purchased the company from Mr. White, an early partner of Mr. Burnett, who started the business in 1946. “As a young girl I knew about tie rod ends, ball joints and front end alignments,” Dawn said. However, she entrusts those responsibilities to a staff of 14 highly qualified mechanics, while she serves as door-greeter, a task she shares with two dogs and two cats who make customers feel at home while waiting for their vehicle.

“Where does the time go?” Dawn mused. “Once you build your path and become an expert at it, a master at your calling, time truly starts to speed up.”

She is entering a new chapter, transitioning her business to a younger, very talented group of men, she said, while she takes on responsibilities as office manager. 

“Succession planning is now in the forefront of my strategic transitioning and passing of the torch. The more I learn about employee-owned companies being successful, the more this path feels right for Burnett White Tire Pros.”

The sale to key employees will take time, she said. Fortunately she has a son and several key employees who will see to it that Burnett White Tire Pros continues to provide the same level of outstanding service it always has.

David Dougherty, Dawn’s son, has been in the business his entire life and is now an alignment tech. Like his mother, David sees that the many friendships he has made in the community keep coming back to Burnett White.

Asked what makes Burnett White different from other shops, David answered, “Trust. Our customers know we’re here for them. And our knowledgeable staff that keep our customers informed.”

David would like to see Burnett White become more active in local events.

Dawn herself wants to be active in the community, and the transition hopefully will afford her more time for that. “Being a business leader gave me added visibility and allowed me to build connections with people in the community,” she said. She added she will always remember her years at the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce, where she became president in 2010. She values the life-long partnerships made during the years of being a member.

As Dawn continues succession planning, she will count on key employees like Brandon Lattimore, who has been with the company for seven years. Brandon said, “Burnett White Tire Pros is more than just a job! Here we are family and we treat everyone like family. We strive to do our best and take care of everybody who comes through our doors and we will continue (to do that) for years to come.”

Matt Tyndall, who grew up in Somerset County and has been with the company for eight years, agreed about the family atmosphere. “What makes Burnett White different is the atmosphere we have as co-workers and friends. When everybody is working together, that produces a better product for the customer. Everyone takes pride in their work, so if we know something isn’t right, we will not send it out. We will take the extra time to correct the problem before the vehicle leaves our shop.”

While all the mechanics have their own specialties, they also take care of the simpler jobs, always with the goal of giving the customer the best product, Matt said. “Almost all of the technicians are versatile and can bounce anywhere in the shop. We build relationships with our customers; they are not just a number.”

Matt’s main job is working road service, which includes farmers, construction companies, truckers and those with a flat tire who just want to move on with their day. “Making the difference in somebody’s day by getting them rolling again makes my day. My slogan is, ‘It’s like it never happened. Fast service with a smile’.” Talking with the customer is one of Matt’s favorite parts of the job. He enjoys bringing smiles and laughs to customers.

When he’s not on the road, Matt takes care of specialty tires/rims, the big 26-, 28- and even 32-inch rims and tractor tires. He will jump in to help in the shop or bounce up front to write up his customers to lighten the load on the counter staff. “My job can be very busy, but I wouldn’t change it,” he said.

Ethan Kauffman has been with Burnett White for 12 years. He is rooted in the area, with a home in Salisbury, a wife and five children.

Ethan said, “The Burnett White difference is that we treat our customer’s vehicles like they’re our own family’s. We want to repair them as quickly and accurately as possible. When I started 12 years ago, little did I know how many chapters of life I would travel through — from full time road service to turning wrenches as a mechanic; staying late to better the shop environment and bringing the building to what it is today. 

“Our shop family has changed so many ways over the years, and I think it has molded into the best one yet. We can all rely on each other to complete the tasks at hand. As far as growth, our facility is one of the best in town and accommodates as many vehicles as our bays allow. In the future I see our company growing, possibly to multiple locations if we maintain our current direction and expansion. I’m thankful for everything Dawn Tilghman and Burnett White have done for me and my family, and I look forward to what lies ahead.”

Mike Martone, also from Salisbury, has been with the Burnett White team for six years. “We strive to deliver quick and efficient service from beginning to end,” he said. Mike’s special talents include communication skills and the ability to quickly adapt to situations. In the future he would like to see new software for an easier customer experience, “allowing a customer to see through our eyes what we see.”

See for yourself the quality of service provided by Burnett White Tire Pros at 412 E. Main Street in Salisbury. The shop is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays, 8 a.m. to noon. Call 410-742-2222 for more information or visit online at