Going Local: Clay Dooley Tire and Auto Service
Clay Dooley started his auto business, Clay Dooley Tire and Auto Service, in July 1917. In 1965, he incorporated the business and several employees owned a percentage of the company. Later, Vernon Trower would gain 100% ownership after Clay Dooley died in 1968. Today, Vernon’s sons, Brian, David, and Steve, and his daughter Ruth all work at the business and share joint ownership. Brian serves as the company president and the business has twelve employees.
“I get along great with my brothers and we enjoy working together,” said Ruth. Ruth and Brian handle accounting and administrative functions while David and Steve work primarily in sales. Ruth plans on retiring next year.
“About 35% of our revenue is from tires and the other 65% is from being a full service auto center. We work on transmissions, air conditioning, brakes, batteries and we do tune-ups,” Brian said. “We have many long-time customers and we enjoy those relationships.”
During World War II the company expanded into appliances to make up for the lack of tire business. “When we moved to the 307 E. Grove Street building in 1986, we dropped appliances as we couldn’t compete with the discount stores,” Brian said.
The business closed its downtown location in 2017, ending a 100-year run in Downtown Bloomington. “We sold the 307 East Grove Street building in 2014 and then leased from the new owner,” said Brian. The company now operates with one location at 1507 E. Vernon Ave. in Bloomington, which opened in 1985.
Clay Dooley is a contract dealer for Goodyear Tires, but offers other brands as well. The company has several commercial accounts and travels to those customers to perform service or install tires. In 2015, the company was inducted into the Route 66 Hall of Fame for its long-time service on “old Route 66.”
The business is open from 7:00 am-5:30 pm, Monday-Friday, and 8:00 am-3:00 pm on Saturdays. Visit their website for more information on services and special offers.