In 1942 J. Darwin and Olive Gunnell moved to Mesa from Northern Utah to begin their lives
in the community and in the tire business. When Darwin was a young man working on the
farm with his father, he would run errands which included trips to a tire store for repairs on
farm tires, etc. He liked the smell of rubber and the work the owner was doing. It seemed
interesting and required a different skill than Darwin was familiar with. As he grew, married
and began his family, he realized there was not enough work and income from the farm to
support himself, his parents, brothers, sisters and spouses. So he paid a visit to the tire store
to ask about opportunities there. He was advised by the regional manager of the OK Tire
Company that Mesa, Arizona would be a good spot for opportunity and growth.
With $400 in borrowed money, he ventured off to Mesa with his wife and 2 year old son
to open his tire store. Rubber tires went on ration soon thereafter ( WW II ), so Darwin
would scour the town to find “junk” tires he could repair ( vulcanize ), so he could have
tires to sell each day. Within two years he bought some recapping equipment to retread
bald tires. He would prepare the tires during the day, then in the evening he would put a
tire in the mold to cook or “cure” for one hour, set his alarm clock, sleep, get up, put
another tire into the mold, set his alarm, sleep…you get the idea. By morning he had
eight more tires to sell than he had the day before.
His store became “the” place to go to get good service and products. Over the years
his store became a fixture in Mesa with many “regulars” that kept coming. He grew
with the town and in 1955 built a new modern store at 420 E. Main. Darwin helped
others start businesses in Mesa, Chandler, Tucson, Scottsdale and Phoenix. He made
time to serve the community, his church, various clubs and civic organizations, and
in 1968 voted Mesa’s Man of the Year!
He grew too: Brent, Lamoine, Steve, Doug, Kay and Scott. Lamoine and Doug remain
in the tire business. Lamoine and his son David (with 4 sons) own and operate the store
at 1950 North Gilbert Road. Mesa has changed over the years, but we have kept the
same simple approach: good service, good products and integrity. We are thankful for
the many friends and customers we have made over the years. We have served
generations of Mesans and hope to serve generations more.
We sincerely thank you.