At Iconic Tire, business anything but flat

Josh Darrow, right, store manager at Iconic Tire's service center, inspects a vehicle with one of his mechanics. Photo by Kyle Norby

Jeff Darrow has been in the auto repair industry for more than 40 years.

Changing tires at age 16, he would begin opening his own Goodyear shops in 1998 on his way to operating 40 locations in California.

Now Darrow is growing a chain of Iconic Tire shops in Arizona, including the new location in Maricopa. It’s a family affair, with son Jeremy as general manager of the shop and son Josh as store manager.

And while the Darrow family knows how to run a successful auto repair business, the overwhelming response to their new store here caught them by surprise.

“Forty years in this business, I’ve never seen a store take off the way this one did. I mean, it was just amazing,” Jeff said.

His father was the vice president of Firestone tire company, so Jeff grew up in the business.

“I was 16, I started changing tires then became a salesman, then assistant manager, store manager, and my career just grew from there,” Jeff said. “We were the largest Goodyear dealer in the state of California. We ran from the Mexican border to San Francisco. In 2019, we sold all those stores to a company from back east, then we came to Arizona.”

The Darrows are making aIconic Tire a family affair: (from left) Jeremy, Jeff and Josh. Photo by Kyle Norby

Jeff Darrow initially came to the state for a liver transplant, as waiting lists were long in California. He had successful transplant surgery but is still recuperating and getting his health in check.

“I was really sick, and I mean sick. But once I got here, I didn’t want to leave,” Jeff explained. “I had lived all my life in California, but I loved it here.”

Jeff and his wife, Paula, live in Chandler, where they are enjoying their new home. Shortly after the move, Jeff asked Josh and Jeremy to join them in Arizona. The Darrows set their sights on Maricopa for a future Iconic tire location soon after Josh moved to the city. (They also own service centers in Mesa and Gilbert with an Ahwatukee location coming soon.)

“Jeremy’s the general manager and Josh runs this particular store. I told them I’d help ’em get 10 or 12 stores and thereafter they’re on their own,” Jeff said. “Josh, my oldest, moved out here and wanted to live in Maricopa. I came out, looked around, and the only thing out here were the two other competitors up the street, so we decided to buy land and build.”

The business opened on August 24 in a new facility at 19945 N. John Wayne Parkway. The Darrows expected a busy opening, but quickly realized they had underestimated demand in Maricopa. Initially short a few employees, the shop made some additional hires to scale up faster than planned to keep up with the influx of customers.

“We see more tire machines, more wheel balancers and a couple more employees in our future,” Josh had said in early September.

Vehicles, some on lifts, occupied the five garage bays on a recent day as workers changed tires, performed oil changes and made other repairs. Iconic’s early success is even more impressive as it opened amid a social media controversy over a photograph that purported to show a slide from Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company diversity training. The image showed, under a heading of “Zero Tolerance,” that attire supporting “Black Lives Matter” was “acceptable,” but President Donald Trump’s

“Make America Great Again” attire was not.

Conservatives were upset, saying the policy discriminated against them, and Trump took to Twitter to urge a boycott of the brand. In response, Goodyear said the slide, apparently shown only at a single plant in Kansas, was not officially sanctioned by the company.

Josh handled the store’s response to concerns aired in local Facebook groups, and gradually the uproar subsided.

He said has felt the love and support from other local business owners, seeing them often on trips to the grocery store or gas station.

He expressed how good it felt to have the “businesses supporting local businesses” culture in Maricopa.

Josh has been on the frontlines of the business with Jeremy helping out at the shop more often — running the store, dealing with vendors and hiring employees. The brothers said working with family has its perks, including knowing they can rely on one another to overcome obstacles in their mission to serve Maricopa for a long time.

The brothers said working with family has perks.

“It’s great to work with family because we are well-known in our area of business for being good at what we do, being trustworthy and bringing up very successful shops,” Josh said.

Jeremy said he agrees, mostly.

“It’s not always easy to work together, you know, so it makes family dinners a little bit awkward every once in a while.”

This story appears in the October issue of InMaricopa magazine.