September 11, 2020
Kedrick Nettleton

 

Tatton Manning graduated from Oklahoma Wesleyan University in 2002 with a degree in business administration. His business, Patriot Auto Group, was recently honored as the 2019-2020 Business of the Year by the Bartlesville Regional Chamber of Commerce.

 

Patriot Auto launched in 2014 and has grown immensely in the six years since. They now sport 6 locations, including two in Bartlesville. Each site has nearly tripled in sales since it began.

Manning spent most of his youth here in Oklahoma, but he didn’t hear about OKWU until the baseball coach contacted him to gauge his interest in playing. Hesitant at first, Manning scheduled a visit anyway. “I came out, saw the school, [and] really liked it,” he said.

The rest, as they say, is history. After moving to Bartlesville, Manning found an identity at the university; many of his life’s foundational events took place on campus. During his four years at OKWU, he gave his life to the Lord, made lifelong friendships, and met Jessica, the woman who would become his wife. “It was a really, really great four years for me,” he said.

 

“I was a kid from a small town and learned a lot. My eyes were opened to the fact that I had to study other things besides just business.”

 

And it wasn’t only OKWU’s business training that impacted Manning’s life – for him, what set it apart from other universities was its commitment to faith practically lived out.

“I think you have real Christians at Oklahoma Wesleyan,” he said, noting how evident this was in the school’s messaging, curriculum, and even the structures around campus. “There’s consistency across the university for professors who hold you to a standard, but who actually wanted you to learn and grow and understand how our Christian worldview affects the way we take in information and learn.”

He points to these professors as the main conduits of influence at OKWU, specifically noting Dr. Wimberley, Dr. Hughes, Dr. Weeter, and Dr. Zeman, who taught him the Time Value of Money. “I use that every day,” he said.

“I was a kid from a small town and learned a lot. My eyes were opened to the fact that I had to study other things besides just business.”

As a matter of fact, business wasn’t exactly a passion of Manning’s when he came in as a freshman. He knew he liked to work with people, so he chose it mostly as a default. “I did not have a good plan. I didn’t know what I wanted to do.”

This lack of direction continued past graduation, when he accepted a car industry job with another OKWU alum, Mark Mulder. But war soon broke out in Iraq, and Manning felt his soul pierced. He joined the military and served a tour in Afghanistan, returning to civilian life in 2009. It’s this military service that informs the name of his business – Patriot Auto Group.

When he returned to the United States, Tatton worked to get his master’s in business from Oklahoma State University, and again became involved in the auto industry. Since launching in 2014, Patriot Auto Group has made a mark in the community not just because of their wide reach, but also because of their commitment to quality service.

“The Bartlesville Chamber was excited to receive the nomination for Patriot Auto,” Sherri Wilt, president of the Chamber, said. “They are most deserving to be named Business of the Year and we were honored to do so. The growth they have experienced as a company in such a short time is a true testament to their success and we love how Tatton has chosen to give back to each community they serve. His passion for helping and supporting our youth, in particular, is inspiring. We are blessed they call Bartlesville home.”

 

“There’s consistency across the university for professors who hold you to a standard, but who actually wanted you to learn and grow and understand how our Christian worldview affects the way we take in information and learn.”

 

While he acknowledges that there are challenges in the car industry – mainly to do with the stereotype that car salespeople are inherently dishonest – Manning’s favorite part of the job is seeing people succeed. “I really like to see people get in, work hard, and see the fruits of their labor, and I get to do that quite a bit,” he said.

And since Patriot only buys auto stores that are struggling, another of Manning’s joys comes from seeing a bad situation turn around. “It’s great to see something that’s almost dead, and see that store go from nothing to alive and doing well,” he said. “That’s really exciting to me.”

In his free time, Manning enjoys spending time with his family – Jessica, his wife, and their four children: Elianna, Avi, Tatton, and Jett. He’s also spent a lot of time giving back to his alma mater, forging connections in the current business department. He even taught a class as an adjunct.

“[Colleges] exist to give you an opportunity to learn,” Manning said. “And you have to have professors that care in order for that to work… we have that here.”