FAMILY OWNED - SINCE 1979
The History of the Cobb Family and the Cobb Tire Company.
As seen in the Greenville news.
Darrell Cobb was employed with Uniroyal Tire Company for 18 yrs and worked himself up the company ladder to hold the position of Southeast Zone Manager in 1979. He worked out of the Uniroyal regional office in Atlanta and oversaw Uniroyal company stores from Baltimore to Texas and as far south as Puerto Rico.
By the time Uniroyal decided to sell it's stores in 1979, Darrell's seniority status put him at the front of the line in terms of buying the properties.
“I loved Greenville. I thought it would be a great place to live,” says Darrell, whose job had taken him to every major city and many not -so-major ones in the United States through the 1960s and '70s. “The only other city I considered was Denver, but the winters are just too cold there. Greenville seemed like the good place for a family.”
Darrell's images of Greenville were carved through his visits to the Uniroyal Tire Stores on Wade Hampton Boulevard and University Ridge, and the sound of Charlie Spivak's trumpet at Ye Olde Fireplace, an upscale restaurant popular in the '60s and '70s.
He chose Greenville, in part because he loved visiting here and in part because the two locations here were convenient for his family plans. His eldest son Mike, in the Air Force at the time, soon became the manager at the University Ridge location; Rich, his youngest son, went on to Winthrop College, and eventually became manager of the Wade Hampton Boulevard store.
Darrell, who was 45 when he made the decision, considers it one of his best.
“It enabled the boys to get a taste of the business, and they liked it - so I soon had two store managers,” says Darrell.
Not long after the move he realized it was a long-term plan. “We knew this was it - no more moving. Greenville is a place that in all the years I've been here, I haven't found anyone who wants to leave. I certainly don't,” says Darrell.
Small, family-operated tire shops such as Cobb Tire have become nearly extinct.
Darrell, now 70, and still a regular fixture at the University Ridge store, says that the family business has survived, in part, because he was able to predict coming changes in the tire industry, and make prompt adjustments through out the growing process. “A tire shop used to be where you put on tires,” says Darrell, who kept at least a couple of tire changers on the payroll in the 1980s. “But now everybody is selling tires - car dealers, the big-box stores, the clubs and the independent national chains. If we had stayed solely in the tire business, we would not have been in business very long,” says Darrell.
Auto repair - everything from maintenance to replacing engines or transmissions - is now the primary mission at Cobb Tire and Auto Repair, where at least one master technician is on staff at each location.
Tire shops, in essence, do the work that was once done by full-service gas stations, which have been replaced across the country by convenience stores.
“It has changed dramatically, and it continues to change fast. Most of the old two-bay or three bay service stations just couldn't keep up with the technology. Those service stations were also unable to keep pace with the training programs required of the auto profession today. Every year, you see more changes electronically,” says Darrell.
The Cobb family's passion for keeping pace with the technology is one of the reasons their shops thrive today in the face of competition from large national chains. Another key to the success is a long held warranty: Any work in the Cobb Tire and Auto Repair shops carries a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty on parts and labor.
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