WWII-era service shop continues to thrive under the same Waco family eight decades later

WACO, TX (KWTX) – A WWII-era Central Texas business has survived eight decades of ups and downs, including the 1953 Waco tornado, and is now celebrating 80 years, not just in business and thriving , but staying in the same family since day one.

City Tire and Battery in Waco was founded in 1942 by George Berry Graves, Sr., a former Baylor director, who worked at the company until his death at age 80 in 1991.

His son, George Berry Graves, Jr., 83, later owned the store, as did the founder’s grandson, Berry Graves. Today, the two men still work in the family business.

“In 1942, I don’t think my grandfather ever imagined four generations of his family working in this family business, but I hope we do a job that will make him proud,” said current owner Berry Graves.

City Tire and Battery in Waco was founded in 1942 by George Berry Graves, Sr. (middle). His son, George Berry Graves, Jr., 83, and the founder’s grandson, Berry Graves (left), are the current owners. (Courtesy picture)

The founder had owned several businesses before opening the tire store on the corner of 3rd and Washington in the middle of World War II.

At the time, there was a ration on the tires because of the war, but that didn’t slow the entrepreneur down.

Berry said his grandfather was able to prosper during World War II because he had a good relationship with Firestone and was able to sell tires.

Another challenge the company had to overcome came in 1953, when an F-5 tornado hit Waco, killing 114 people and wiping out most of downtown.

Although its tires were dumped all over town, the City Tire and Battery building only suffered shattered windows.

The original City Tire and Battery Co. in downtown Waco.
The original City Tire and Battery Co. in downtown Waco.(Courtesy picture)

“When the tornado hit, we were downtown on the 3rd and Washington and Dad were in college,” Berry said.

“My grandfather was in business for about 10 years, and he told the story after it hit. He threw tires all over that part of downtown and so he came home and picked up my dad and a good friend of theirs and got them badges from the sheriff’s department and they started trying to get some tires and bring them back.

Berry said City Tire and Battery has really stood the test of time.

In 1967 it moved to its current location at 1502 South Valley Mills Drive.

Despite the moves, the family continued to pay homage to their past by hanging old photographs in the hall.

They even displayed the old street signs from the intersection of 3rd and Washington repainted and exposed.

Old street sign from the original location of City Tire and Co. in downtown Waco.
Old street sign from the original location of City Tire and Co. in downtown Waco.(Courtesy picture)

Berry said City Tire and Battery is more than a business for his family, which includes six generations of Baylor graduates and six generations of Wacoans.

“For us it was always a place, a second home almost where we went to visit my dad and where we always had summer jobs and so I grew up working there,” he said. he declares.

Berry’s son, Gillen, is now following in the family’s footsteps.

Berry Graves (left), George Berry Graves, Jr. (middle), and Berry Graves' son, Gillen (right).
Berry Graves (left), George Berry Graves, Jr. (middle), and Berry Graves’ son, Gillen (right).(Courtesy picture)

After graduating from Baylor, he went to work and is now assistant manager just under managing director, Wes Warrick, who is unrelated.

“Celebrating our 80th anniversary is a very rewarding experience,” Berry said. “We are so grateful to the employees and customers and all the different people who have contributed to the success over these 80 years. Without them, this would not have been possible. »

City Tire and Battery performs all tire services and automotive services such as brakes, alignments, HVAC repairs, suspension and tune-ups.

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Alejandro L. Myatt