Joe D'Adamo Tire has been helping Napans get safely back on the road for 50+ years!
Adhering to the idiom “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Mike D’Adamo didn’t make any drastic changes to Napa auto staple Joe D’Adamo Tire when he purchased it from his father in 2002 after 37 successful years of business. In sticking to his dad’s principles of stand-up service and competitive prices, the family business celebrated its 50th anniversary on Aug. 11.
“This was my father’s baby. He got started here on Aug. 11, 1965, and he’s still alive to see it. It makes me feel pretty proud that I was able to take something that was his business and keep it going. It doesn’t always work out that way,” said Mike D’Adamo, who did finally get the shop a computer — something his dad never had — when taking the reins.
Joe D’Adamo, an Italian immigrant and Napa Union graduate, returned home after a decade in the Air Force and opened up a Texaco gas station dealer and repair shop. It was the golden days that today’s youth will never even know about, of full-service gas stations that not only pumped your fuel for you, but also wiped your windshield clean, checked your tires and more.
There was competition on just about every corner.
“He came here with nothing and started a business on nothing. Back then, there were about 77 gas stations in Napa and about half the population we have now. It was very difficult to get it off the ground, and nobody really knew him,” Mike D’Adamo said.
But people took notice of his honesty and work ethic, and he slowly built up a positive reputation around town — the same reputation that the D’Adamo name and shop upholds today.
“I’ve adopted most of the policies that he had because what he had was working pretty well. Good pricing. Good service. Be friendly and honest. Don’t sell people things they don’t need. Get their trust,” said Mike D’Adamo. “Trust is invaluable in business, especially in automotive.”
A few years after opening, the business expanded to tires, and Mike D’Adamo was put to work pumping gas when he was just 8 years old. Much more than his three sisters and younger brother, he enjoyed the work and had found his calling, sticking with it even when he was strictly held to a higher standard than the other employees. After high school and four years of auto shop classes, he was changing tires before graduating on to repair work, his specialty.
“He put me to work when I was really young because back in those days you could,” said Mike D’Adamo. “He wanted to instill work ethic into me, so if I wanted a new bike or something, he usually made me work for it to teach me that you had to work hard for things, that things weren’t just handed to you.”
Like any business, Joe D’Adamo Tire has had to overcome hard times. In the early-to-mid 1990s, the fuel companies lobbied for the implementation of a string of new laws, which frequently changed the code of the fuel tanks. Joe D’Adamo and his competitors were forced to excavate tanks multiple times, sometimes yearly. Gas stations began to disappear around him at a rapid rate and he made the tough decision to cut the founding, fuel portion of his business and focus solely on repairs.
But then, and through every bump before and since, the shop has prevailed and remained a trusted Napa favorite.
“My dad always tried things aggressively. He was the lowest price in town. I take that to heart,” Mike D’Adamo said. “We’re looking for repeat business. Our good customers will give us a kind word because the price is good and if you stand behind your work, it keeps them coming back. Then a father might send his daughter or his brother or his dad. Word of mouth advertising is really vital and that’s something you can’t buy.”
More than just a business mentor, Joe D’Adamo and his wife of 57 years have also set an idyllic example of marriage and family that Mike D’Adamo now follows with his “backbone,” wife Lisa, and their four children.
When the kids are older, he hopes any of them might be interested in the family business, but he’s not going to force it.
And while Joe D’Adamo Tire has come a long way in 50 years, its foundation has always remained the same. It’s just as Joe built it, with honesty, trustworthiness and good old-fashioned hard work.
“I would love to thank loyal customers for making this happen and thank my parents for giving me the opportunity that they did,” Mike D’Adamo said. “We plan on being here for quite a few years to come.”