OUR 100TH YEAR ANNIVERSARY
A LOOK BACK AT WHERE WE HAVE BEEN, WHERE
WE ARE TODAY & WHERE WE ARE GOING. . .
SOLID RUBBER TIRES & WOODEN WHEELS
100 years ago, in the Spring of 1911, two tire builders from the old Diamond Rubber Company, in Akron, Ohio, opened the first tire vulcanizing shop, west of the Mississippi, in Des Moines, lowa. They specialized in rebuilding and retreading tires. George Koons and Fred Prior had a hard time at first. The tire repair business was still a very new trade, and the partners had to supplement their families' incomes by taking turns working in Akron rubber factories during the winter.
Several years later, Fred Prior moved south…but that’s another story. George Koons was great-grandfather to Michael Callison, the current president of Midwest Wheel Companies, grandfather of James W. Callison and W.A. "Mike" Callison's father-in-law. "Mike" Callison (Michael's grandfather) joined the firm in 1925 at the very beginning of an era which saw highway transportation evolve from wooden to steel wheels. Until that time the wheel and rim pioneers, Koons and Prior, had been making and repairing hickory wood wheels in addition to rebuilding and retreading solid rubber tires. This necessitated employing a wheel-wright from Chicago, who learned his trade by hand making wagon wheels in the days of horse drawn transportation. Wooden spokes were made by hand cutting and shaping a piece of hickory into a finished spoke.
WIRE WHEELS & BARNEY OLFIELD
The business progressed with the establishment of a wire wheel repair service. Race car drivers took particular advantage of this service, since it was the only one in the area at the time. Among them, the famous dirt track driver, Barney Olfield, was often seen in the service department waiting for repairs on his car's wire wheels and tires.
During the late teens, as the business changed from tires to wheels, the name was changed to Iowa Wheel and Rim Corporation.
During our first ten years of doing business, Iowa Wheel and Rim Corporation had grown from two employees to sixteen, and were now selling Firestone, Goodyear and Kelly tires.
THE AGE OF THE WOODEN WHEEL COMES TO AN END
The next decade brought about a new era, with the arrival of the steel wheel. By the time Mike Callison joined the firm in 1925, Iowa Wheel and Rim Corporation was already distributing products for the heavy weights of the wheel and rim industry such as Firestone, Budd, Motor Wheel, Kelsey, Hayes, and Wire Wheel Corporation of America.
The late Mike Callison and Jim Callison were totally dedicated to our company. TheIr enduring contribution is a primary reason for our continued success.
GROWING BIGGER TO SERVICE BETTER
In 1927 we changed our name to Des Moines Wheel and Rim Company. Jim Callison, Mike's son, joined the firm as a partner in 1948. Jim nurtured the company through one of its most dynamic periods of growth. We had moved a couple of times before 1959, when we moved to our present location at 1436 East Ovid.
Business continued mainly with wheels, tire, and service until the 50's and 60's when we began expanding in to various other parts for HD trucks. At one point in time wheels were over 80% of our business, compared to less than 10% today (wheels are only a small portion of what we do). Some of our earliest vendors are still vendors to this day; Accuride, MotorWheel, and Firestone to name a few.
The 70's brought some big additions. In 1972, we bought Midwest Wheel & Rim of Davenport, with a branch in Dubuque, and in 1978 we opened a branch operation Midwest Wheel & Equipment, in Clear Lake. The new locations helped us better service customers located in our outlying marketing areas. Then, in 1981 we moved our Dubuque branch to Cedar Rapids, lowa, another highly industrialized trucking center of lowa. The 70's and 80's also brought along the need to diversify and evolve where we saw opportunities to expand. We began selling custom steel and aluminum wheels for light trucks in the early 70's, this eventually expanded into the much larger market of light truck accessories which has become a highly successful part of our business.
In 1994 we opened a location in Sioux City and have since added locations in Kansas City and Belton MO in early 2003. Each new location we have opened was not just to accommodate our growth, but to offer better accessibility and service to our customers which after 100 years have remained our priority.
WHERE WE ARE TODAY AND WHERE WE ARE GOING
Our locations today now all operate under the Midwest Wheel banner to offer customer consistent price, policy, and service in any location they visit.
Our dedication to our customer service and being a leader in the heavy duty truck and light truck accessory markets is what drives us today. Our staff has experience that is unrivaled in the industry. With over 150 years of service between our five officers we have the knowledge and background to bring products and solutions to market that will continue to serve you well into the future.
We are still family owned to this day even through five generations. Though we are family owned our employees now own our future as well. In early 2010 Mike Callison and family initiated an employee stock ownership plan for all employees, giving all employees the opportunity to partake in the company’s long term success.
With continued improvement and unwavering customer service and appreciation we look forward to celebrating 100 years with all of our customers, employees, and vendors. With steadfast dedication we will continue serving the Midwest as a leader in the HD truck and light truck accessory markets for another 100 years.