Ron’s Tire on Karsch Blvd in Farmington has had its share of ups and downs since 1982, including a major fire last week.
This is the third blaze that the business suffered with prior fires in 2005 and 2014. Each time, including this one, owner Ron Boyd puts his business back together to serve the tire needs of St. Francois County. Boyd addressed the rumors about the latest fire and the future of his business.
“They say that lightning don’t strike more than one time, they are full of it,” he said. “Let’s face it, three times. I would think the same things. A lot of people got misconstrued about what’s going on. When [the fire inspector] says it’s an undetermined fire, he knew it was electrical, but it was undetermined where it was at. He came in here, they had a fire/explosives expert out of Collinsville come in here, and he pinpointed it in the upper corner there, between the ceiling and roof. They said it was an electrical short that ignited the insulation.
“Everybody says ‘you ought to be good now’. You never gain anything in a fire. I guarantee you I will be in a hole on this deal before it is said and done. It’s heart wrenching, it makes you think about quitting and just getting a normal job for a little while. I’ve been here too long, I’ve been here since 1982. I can’t quit, I’m going to clean up what I can, make sure it all works.”
Boyd and his employees are hard at work cleaning up the mess.
“I’m going back to work and trying to open back up as soon as I can,” he said. “I’m 61, I still got to go a good seven to eight years before I can retire. The front part isn’t too bad, it just had a lot of smoke damage.
"The trusses are good, drywall is gotta come out, reseal the trusses, put some doors in and try to put in a temporary wall if they will let us. We’ll get back to going, hopefully within 30 days. A lot of equipment can be salvaged, I lost one truck because I just carried liability insurance on it.
"My other good truck, they are going to total it. I can’t do service calls. If I can’t get this up, I at least need to find a temporary building and run my service trucks and take care of different organizations, focus on the commercial work that I have bids on. I’m going to try to have a truck ready by the end of [this] week, so I can take care of the county and city on service calls.”
According to Boyd, the city’s response to the blaze was top-notch and he nothing but praise for the first responders.
“The fire departments, they did an exceptional job, everyone of them,” he said. “The police department, I sure do praise them for their job.”
Firefighters did a lot of unavoidable damage to the windows and doors of the building to access the fire, leading Boyd to give a serious recommendation to other businesses to install a Knox Box on the outside of their buildings.
“I recommend it highly,” he said. “I wish I had a Knox Box for them with a key in it where they can get into it. I never did put one up. I never did plan on having to use one again either.”
Although the main blaze was extinguished fairly quickly and much of his inventory of tires looked undamaged, Boyd says that he has to scrap all of the tires stored in the building.
“It got a good part of it,” he said. “But they have to make us load it up and have it scrapped because of the smoke and the heat. I think a lot of them are usable, but they don’t want to have that issue.”
Boyd has been thinking for some time about going to a smaller building and has a sign advertising selling the property. He still plans on downsizing.
“I have a couple of guys call me and wanted to know if I would sell the building,” he said. “I said, ‘like it is?’ I told them to come and walk through it and tell me if you want it. I might sell it and go to a smaller building. That’s why I had that sign up. What I wanted to do…I can’t get more than two workers to work. I get one and he’ll quit in three weeks.
"I can’t keep anybody over 40 years old. It’s just two guys. I told them I will sell this place, I don’t need seven bays, let’s just downsize to two bays and do service work and a little bit of retail and just slow down. It ain’t like I want to be the top dog anymore, when I was young, I wanted to be the 'tire king' of the county. I want to slow down.”
Boyd notes that the community in general has been very supportive during this time.
“I am very humbled, I have had over 300 texts about helping me or whatever I need. I feel pretty good.”
Mark Marberry is a reporter for the Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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