Focus On Business: Symons Tire
When you think of businesses in Mission, it’s hard not to think of Larry Symons. Symons Tire has been a fixture of this community for – how many years?
“Forty two this spring”, says Larry’s son Jason. With his parents enjoying partial retirement, Jason now runs the operation. “My dad opened his tire shop in 1973”.
While the rest may be history, it is very much the history of two deep- rooted area families. Larry’s mother emigrated from England and married his dad – a long time employee at a local shake and shingle mill. Larry’s wife Sharon comes from a Japanese family that had been interned during WW II. After the war, and after losing his fishing boat and livelihood, Sharon’s dad opened the Deroche General Store. So neither family was a stranger to hard work, a trait passed on to their children. Larry worked in a tire shop during his high school years, gaining both the experience and the money to start out on his own. In 1973 he opened his own business in what’s now the Prospect Equipment building on Mission’s Glasgow Avenue.
After moving to its present location in 1976 when Larry constructed the first part of his building, Symons Tire has grown into one of the community’s most enduring businesses.
From the beginning it was very much a family affair. Sharon looked after the books while Larry ran the floor. Son Jason started part time when he was 13, taking as many after school and weekend shifts as he could. And now Jason’s teenage sons Brenden and Ethan are beginning the third generation at Symons Tire.
The Mission connection continues with Jason’s wife Tania, who not only works part time at both Symons and the School District, but also operates a personal training and private fitness studio in town, where she also offers the “Tough Mudders” obstacle course training. For his part, Jason has served on-call for the Mission Fire Department for the past 22 years, and is very involved in local soccer programs.
Today the company boasts not only a state-of-the-art tire operation, but also an alignment shop and a brake and muffler shop. Their first employee Darryl Alstad is still with them. Jason laughs. “Darryl was not only Dad’s first employee, he was his only employee”, he recalls. “He was still in school when he started, and in this business, when winter hits, it’s chaos. So whenever it snowed, Darryl had to play hooky and come to work. Dad couldn’t manage without him”.
From baby to boss – now that’s a family business
Darryl smiles at the remembrance. “You know, Jason was only 9 months old when I started” he says. “And now he’s my boss”.
But what a boss! The Symons premises are neat, well organized and hum with efficiency. Stocking brands such as BF Goodrich, Michelin and Uniroyal, the tire shop sells products for applications all the way from lawn mowers to loaders. “And everything in between”, says Jason. “Auto, small utility, construction, OTR (off the road) – we have them all”.
The muffler and brake shop boasts seven bays and the latest in computerized equipment, offering a variety of services including alignments, suspensions, tune-ups, engine diagnostics, transmission flushes, alternators, starters and U joints. It has grown into one of the largest full service shops in the Lower Mainland. Symons employs 15 people, most of them living locally. As one of Mission’s oldest and most durable businesses, Symons Tire deserves a special place in our community.