May 1953 – Business Begins!
Jack Roemer begins the legacy of what ultimately became Roemer’s Point S Tire & Auto Service. Jack is offered the opportunity to lease the Conoco Service Station he’s been working at, when then current operator, Vince Bakke, decides to open his first tire store. This Conoco Service Station was located at 130 E Main Street in downtown Missoula.
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. Incidentally, this is the location of the former First Christian Church where Pat and Jack Roemer were married in 1951.
Pat and Jack’s Son, John Roemer, 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 learned the fine art of serving customers at the gas pumps. “Fill ‘er up?” “Check under the hood?” “Wash those windows sir?”
Roemer’s Conoco is once again remodeled, this time it’s rebuilt as a ‘concept’ store featuring expanded automotive services including a dynamometer capable of testing for engine horsepower and performance delivered to the tires. Also in 1969, Roemer’s introduces the first American-made radial tire to Missoula drivers — the BF Goodrich Radial 990.
John graduates from the University of Montana with a degree in German and a secondary school teaching certificate. He is determined to never clean another restroom so he applies for teaching positions throughout the Northwest.
With only two language teaching positions open in the State of Montana and few elsewhere in the Northwest, there are no teaching prospects on the horizon for John. A recent newlywed, John agrees to take a sales position at Roemer’s. Among other things, John resumes his restroom cleaning duties.
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. The gas pumps and gas island awning shelter are removed and Roemer’s Conoco becomes Roemer’s Tire and Auto Center featuring BF Goodrich and Mohawk Tires.
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.
John buys Roemer’s Tire and Auto from his father, Jack.
Goodyear announces that they will increase tire prices to its smaller independent tire dealers by 16%.
John becomes an owner-Member of the largest tire distribution cooperative in the West, Northwest Tire Factory, LLC. At the time there are 112 member-owners. All owner-members of Tire Factory are independent owners of their own stores and share in the management and ownership of the Tire Factory distribution co-op. The newly renamed Roemer’s Tire Factory is able to offer lower tire prices for their customers.
Tire Factory evolves to include a common marketing strategy with member stores required to identify their buildings with similar colors and signs, and honor one another’s warranties for their customers. Roemer’s Tire Factory is repainted to reflect this strategy. By now there are 154 member-owners of Tire Factory stores in the Pacific Northwest.
Roemer’s Tire Factory celebrates 60 years serving Missoula by implementing the 60 Acts of Kindness Campaign to give back to the Missoula community that has supported the business since 1953. This campaign continues today with Roemer’s giving annually to various organizations like the YWCA, Youth Homes, The International Choral Festival, Humane Society of Western Montana, the Missoula Food Bank and many others.
Roemer’s Tire Factory changes its name to Roemer’s Point S Tire & Auto Service. Point S is a global tire and automotive parts buying cooperative with over 3000 independent member locations in 27 different countries. The move by the Tire Factory governing board to join this world-wide cooperative means that Roemer’s has effectively multiplied their purchasing power by a factor of 26. It allows local, independent owners, like John Roemer, to compete with “the big guys” and focus on service, selection and savings.