Roemer's 60th Anniversary Serving Missoula

John and Jack Roemer - Roemer's Tire Factory MissoulaIn May 2013, Roemer’s Tire Factory celebrates its 60th year as a locally-owned, family business in Missoula. We’re very proud that Roemer’s has survived and thrived through some of the worst economic times of these past 60 years.

We are truly grateful to our customers and we are celebrating our 60 year history in Missoula by giving back to the community that has supported us for all these years.

To celebrate, we are contributing 60 Acts of Kindness in 2013 — one for every year we’ve been in business.  These Acts of Kindness will range from small everyday things, to our plan to raise at least $5000 for Missoula Aging Services. See full details in our 60th Anniversary press release here.

Also see Roemer’s 60th Anniversary coverage in the local news:
KECI News Anniversary Coverage
Missoulian 60th Anniversary Article

Roemer’s Business Chronology

November 1951
Jack and Pat Roemer married in the First Christian Church in Missoula.  The church sat on the same corner as the current Roemer’s store location at 240 E. Broadway in downtown Missoula.

August 1952
The Roemer’s first child, son John, is born at St. Patrick’s Hospital.

Roemers Conoco original location on E Main in Missoula.May 1953 – Business Begins!
Jack Roemer begins the legacy of what ultimately became Roemer’s Tire Factory when he is offered the opportunity to lease the Conoco Service Station he’s been working at when current operator, Vince Bakke, decides to open his first tire store. This Conoco Service Station was located at 130 E Main (current site of the phone company building), across the street from the old Firestone store on Main and Pattee Streets in downtown Missoula.

January 1954
Daughter Kathy is born at St. Patrick’s Hospital.

1962 - Newly constructed Roemer's Broadway building.Spring 1962
Construction and Grand Opening of new location. Roemer’s Conoco relocates to 240 E. Broadway.  The store was originally built as a 4 bay shop with two gas islands out front.  Within a few years the building was expanded to its current size. The building square footage was increased by more than a third and included 2 additional lift bays, a larger showroom and office and a substantial parts and tire stock room at the back of the building.

Summer 1965
John takes a summer job at Roemer’s Conoco before starting 7th grade. His first job was to use ‘tire black paint’ to dress up the used tires on display for resale.  He made 25 cents for every tire completed. Within a week John painted himself out of used tires and was assigned other duties (and the restrooms were never cleaner). Shortly thereafter John was taught the fine art of serving customers at the gas pumps. “Fill ‘er up?” “Check under the hood?” “Wash those windows sir?”

Roemers Car Clinic on E BroadwayLate 1969
Roemer’s Conoco is once again remodeled, this time rebuilt as a ‘concept’ store featuring expanded automotive services including a dynamometer capable of testing for engine horsepower and performance delivered to the tires.  Roemer’s Conoco becomes Roemer’s Car Clinic, Inc and enjoys further growth in the auto repair and maintenance side of the business. By now, tire sales have become a significant part of the company’s sales. Also in 1969 Roemer’s introduces the first American made radial tire to Missoula drivers — the BF Goodrich Radial 990.

Early 1971
Gas prices begin to climb above 30 cents a gallon. The Arab Oil Embargo causes a shortage of crude oil worldwide. Crude oil prices nearly quadrupled from 1971 to 1974. Gasoline prices at the pump shot up rapidly and were approaching $1.00 per gallon in early 1973.  The US economy experienced the worst economic slump to date since the great depression. And convenience store, self-serve gasoline began taking over as the preeminent supplier of gasoline to American motorists. From that point on ‘full service’ gasoline retailers were in rapid decline. The traditional service station business model was doomed.

John Roemer and mom Pat 1971 Spring 1971
Son John graduates from Hellgate High School and enrolls at the University of Montana for the Fall quarter 1971.

Early 1970’s
Jack buys the Roemer’s Car Clinic property from Conoco as the oil company seeks to raise capital during the Arab Oil Embargo.

Missoula Chamber of Commerce logo1976
Jack Roemer elected President of the Missoula Chamber of Commerce. He ultimately serves on the Chamber Board for nearly 10 years.

Spring 1977
John graduates (with honors) from the University of Montana with a degree in German, a minor in History-Political Science, and a secondary school teaching certificate. (He is determined to never clean another restroom.) He applies for teaching positions throughout the Northwest.

Summer 1977
With only two language teaching positions open in the State of Montana (one of them in Froid, MT) and few elsewhere in the Northwest, there are no teaching prospects on the horizon. Having become a recent newlywed, John agrees to take a sales position at Roemer’s Car Clinic. Among other things, John resumes his restroom cleaning duties.

1977 - Roemer's Gas Pumps RemovedLate 1977
Retail gasoline sales, as a Full Service business model, is no longer profitable as gas approaches $1 per gallon for the first time in U.S. history. Fortunately, Roemer’s auto repair and tire sales business is flourishing.  The gas pumps and gas island awning shelter are removed and Roemer’s Car Clinic becomes Roemer’s Tire and Auto Center featuring BF Goodrich and Mohawk Tires.

Fall 1977
John joins the Downtown Retailer’s Association as its youngest member. The group comes together to jointly promote the remaining downtown retail businesses. Downtown struggles to survive as all but one major retailer moves to newly constructed Southgate Mall.  Vacancies in downtown continue to grow. This Retailer’s Association is the spawning ground for today’s Missoula Downtown Association.

Missoula Downtown Association LogoEarly 1980’s
John is elected President of the recently formed Missoula Downtown Association. He ultimately served on the MDA board for 17 consecutive years and served a second term as President in the early 1990’s.

Spring 1986
Roemer’s Tire and Auto Center signs with Goodyear Tire and Rubber as Missoula’s newest Goodyear Tire dealer.   Roemer’s introduces the world’s first all-season radial tire to Missoula — the Goodyear Tiempo.

Spring 1988
John buys Roemer’s Tire and Auto from father Jack.

Missoula Parking Commission LogoMid 1994
John is appointed by Mayor Kemmis to serve on the Missoula Parking Commission. He goes on to serve for another 12 years, several of them as President of the Commission. He is again appointed to the Commission in 2010 by Mayor Engen and continues to serve on the MPC Board today.

Spring 2000
Goodyear announces that they will increase tire prices to its smaller independent tire dealers by 16%.

Roemers Tire Factory SignSummer 2000
John becomes an owner-Member of the largest tire distribution co-op in the West, Northwest Tire Factory, LLC (dba Tire Factory). At the time there are 112 member-owners. All owner-members of Tire Factory are independent owners of their own companies and share in the management and ownership of the Tire Factory. The new Roemer’s Tire Factory becomes store #113. Roemer’s is now able to lower tire prices even further for their customers.

Spring 2001
John is appointed to the Management Committee (board of directors) for Tire Factory when a board members drops out.  He is subsequently elected to the Management Committee in 2003 and continues today to serve the Members and the company as one of 13 elected by the member-owners to serve 3 year terms.

Spring 2005
Tire Factory evolves to include a common marketing strategy in their overall business plan. Participating member stores are required to identify their buildings with common paint and signage themes and configuration, honor one another’s warranties for their customers, and commonly advertise the Tire Factory brand. Members are encouraged to keep their local identification. The Broadway store is repainted to reflect this strategy. By now there are 154 participating member-owners of Tire Factory.

Roemer's Tire Factory at 240 E Broadway Missoula MTSpring 2013
Roemer’s Tire Factory celebrates 60 years serving the Missoula motoring community by implementing the 60 Acts of Kindness Campaign to give back to the Missoula community that has supported the business since 1953.  See 60th Anniversary – 60 Acts of Kindness press release here.

Roemer’s relies heavily on its legacy auto repair and maintenance services and continues to sell more tires every year. Tire Factory now has over 200 Members operating in 15 Western states. It has 3 large distribution centers located in Portland, Salt Lake and Denver carrying over $20 million of inventory exclusively available for member-owners. Tire Factory continues to be the largest member-owned tire cooperative west of the Mississippi.