A company which has been in business for 87 years in Mount Airy will cease part of its operations on Friday.
Dean Bray III said Friday will be the last day Bray’s Recapping Service will offer retail services at its location on North South Street. However, the company will continue to sell tires, and the Bray family and its employees will refocus efforts on running the real estate portion of the family business.
Bray said the business has been through many transitions since 1930, when his grandfather opened a service station across from the current location of the U.S. Post Office in Mount Airy.
“He was in the gas station business with Standard Oil in Winston-Salem,” said Bray of his grandfather, Dean Bray Sr.
Bray recounted a story about how his grandfather landed in Mount Airy.
“He rode up here with another guy from Standard Oil,” said Bray. “The guy left him here, and he had to spend the night in town.”
Bray said his grandfather fell in love with the small town, and when the man returned to pick him up the next day, he agreed to run a new Standard Oil Co. service station in Mount Airy. In the late ’30s, the government forced Standard Oil to break up its operations, and Dean Bray Sr. bought the business from Standard Oil.
Though selling gas was the bulk of the business’s operations in the early years, Bray said his grandfather started retreading or recapping tires “out back.” He also bought a second service station, the current location of Wally’s Service Station, just south of the downtown area.
Bray said as the retreading business grew, his grandfather sold both Main Street locations and moved the company to its present location on North South Street next to the current Mount Airy High School campus.
Dean Bray Jr. said that move occurred in 1951.
“He decided to get out of the gas business and focus his efforts on the retreading business,” said Dean Bray III.
The recapping service continued to grow at the new location, said Bray. Eventually, the company landed a number of government contracts and began recapping tires for the U.S. military.
However, Bray said the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, changed that. When wars flared up in the Middle East — and the vehicles using the recapped tires were deployed — the Mount Airy business lost much of its government-fueled work. A few years ago, Bray’s halted its recapping operations.
Bray reiterated the point that the business will continue to sell tires, converting into a bit more of a tire warehouse operation. It will only stop servicing tires and vehicles.
He added the move has “been in the works” for a while, as he and his staff refocus their efforts on other portions of the family business.
The cessation of retail service work also won’t lead to large numbers of employees being laid off, said Bray. Most of the employees who worked on the service side of the business will simply be tasked with other jobs, such as helping with maintenance at Bray’s rental properties.
He noted he believes real estate is the future of the family business.
“We want to thank all of the customers we have had over the years,” said Bray.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.