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.
The Roemer’s first child, son John, is born at St. Patrick Hospital.
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.
Daughter Kathy is born at St. Patrick Hospital.
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.
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?”
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. 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.
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.
Jack buys the Roemer’s Car Clinic property from Conoco as the oil company seeks to raise capital during the Arab Oil Embargo.
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.
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. A recent newlywed, John agrees to take a sales position at Roemer’s Car Clinic. 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. Fortunately, Roemer’s auto repair and tire sales are 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.
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 Missoula continue to grow. This Retailer’s Association is the spawning ground for today’s Missoula Downtown Association.
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.
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 father Jack.
John is appointed by Mayor Kemmis to serve on the Missoula Parking Commission (MPC). 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.
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 companies and share in the management and ownership of the Tire Factory distribution co-op. The newly renamed Roemer’s Tire Factory is now able to lower tire prices even further for their customers.
John is appointed to the Management Committee (board of directors) for Tire Factory. 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.
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 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 continues its Acts of Kindness Campaign by kicking off the new anniversary year by supporting Youth Homes in Missoula. See the full story in the May 29, 2014 edition of the Tire Enquirer!
Roemer’s relies heavily on its legacy auto repair and maintenance services and continues to sell more tires every year. The Tire Factory Co-op 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.
Roemer’s Tire Factory changes its name to Roemer’s Point S. 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 – which is what the Point S brand stands for.
To continue with the Acts of Kindness Roemer’s began in 2013, Roemer’s Point S donated money to Missoula’s 2016 International Choral Festival.