Forty Years in St. Louis: ’76–’16
In 1976, there was a lot going on in the world: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded the Apple Computer Company, kicking off the personal computer revolution. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration unveiled the first space shuttle, the Enterprise, transforming space-based technology and experimentation for decades. The United States celebrated a special Independence Day, commemorating two hundred years since the Declaration of Independence. IBM introduced the laser printer, and Matsushita introduced the VHS home video cassette recorder.
Of course, we could go on and on about 1976 – the Austria Winter Olympics, bell-bottom pants, Hotel California, Ebola, The Muppet Show, LEGO, Rocky Balboa, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Queen, ABBA, Paul Simon, and disco… While Rocky, VHS, and disco have all been consigned to the annals of history, we’re celebrating forty years of operation, right here in St. Louis.
Established in 1976 – Don Dobbs’ Legacy
At the Yorkshire Plaza, in south St. Louis, entrepreneur Don Dobbs Sr., along with his son, Don Dobbs Jr. and grandson, David, opened the first Dobbs Tire & Auto Center store, kicking off an ever-expanding presence in the area. By 1990, eighteen stores were in operation, and a new corporate headquarters was built in High Ridge, which is overseeing daily operations across today’s forty locations. By the year 2000, just ten years later, we more than doubled our operations in the St. Louis area, offering exceptional automotive service at 39 locations.
Far from being a no-faced corporate entity, the Dobbs family has, from the very beginning, been involved in the communities in which it serves, from Cross Keys to Festus and Wentzville to Edwardsville. David Dobbs, current President and CEO, explains, “Because we’re a local company, we live in these communities, too. We’re invested in these communities and care about the people who live and work in them.”
Dobbs Tire & Auto Centers – Decades of Community Service
One holiday tradition started in the mid-1990s, when Dobbs started distributing Thanksgiving turkeys to employees. In the decades since, many hundreds of turkeys have made our associates’ Thanksgiving dinners that much tastier. Since the mid-2000s, we’ve partnered with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, raising funds for medical research in St. Louis and across the country.
In 1994, educational partnerships, with Ranken Technical College and Jefferson College, further extended our reach into the community. As part of the program, Dobbs Tire & Auto Centers hires automobile technology and repair students, who get on-the-job training and real-world experience, not to mention helping to defray the costs of their education. This program is still going strong over two decades later, some graduates of the program find lasting positions in our shops and offices.
David Dobbs comments, “We’re a local family company who loves and supports everything St. Louis. From little league baseball and Stray Rescue of St. Louis sponsorships all the way to the St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Blues – we support these organizations because they are important to our family, our associates and the city of St. Louis.”
Dobbs Tire & Auto Centers, Here to Stay
Today, the family-owned company is recognized as one of the top 150 privately-owned companies in St. Louis. While Don Dobbs Jr. held his Chairman of the Board position, David was promoted to President and CEO, in 2005. In 2008, Don’s grandson, Dustin, who had been working hard at different levels in the company, was promoted to Store Supervisor, eventually moving up to Vice President and Director of Retail Sales.
Of course, this was all part of the plan, and a natural progression of the family business, leaving Don to focus on his family and his health. You see, since the late 90s, aging entrepreneur Don Dobbs Jr. fought valiantly against cancer and other illnesses, which forced him to take a less-active role in the company. Sadly, after a bout of sickness in March, 2015, Don Dobbs Jr., born in 1938, passed away at the age of 76.
Nearly two years after the death of founder and former President and CEO Don Dobbs Jr., the family business continues the tradition of automobile service and community involvement he started forty years ago, with a single store, in 1976. David Dobbs concludes, “I love this company and St. Louis. My grandfather, dad and I started this company together forty years ago, and now I’m lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with my kids for years to come. I’m extremely thankful for our associates and for the people of St. Louis for trusting us with their tire and automotive repair needs for the past forty years, and hopefully for years to come.”