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(310) 378-8301
1864 Lomita Blvd. • Lomita, CA 90717
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Family History

I guess it all started in around, 1961. Bob Lee and Harlean Lee decided to move from North Carolina to California in search of a dream.

The dream began with Bob working at a furniture store doing odd jobs and finding out quickly that this really was not the dream. His dream was in the automotive industry. After this realization, Bob found himself working at a gas station in around the area of 49th & Figueroa in Los Angeles. The owner of a Texaco gas station took Bob under his wing and began to show him the business. The gas station also doubled as a National Trailer rental office, which gave Bob yet another way to make money.


In a few years the owner of the gas station decided to retire and asked Bob if he would like to own it. Having relatively no savings, Bob took a loan out from a friend and floated the rest with the owner. Very quickly the loans were paid and the station was his.

Sadly enough, in late summer 1965, the Watts Riots would destroy the gas station, again leaving Bob and Harlean without means for the dream.


Later in the year, through a contact with the oil industry, Bob found a lead on a Gulf gas station just off the 405 freeway and Rosecrans. This station would set the bar for their proper leap into business. The station was surrounded on each corner by gas stations thus making survival tough to say the least! Bob took off running by canvassing the entire neighborhood for a 3 mile radius with “Bob’s Gulf” paraphernalia. Tops saying “Spin on over to Bob’s Gulf” and Frisbees saying “Fly on over to Bob’s Gulf” were just a few of Bob’s campaign tools. A few years later, Bob’s Gulf was the largest grossing gas and “TBA” station west of the Mississippi! (TBA was an acronym meaning Tires, Batteries, and Accessories.) Bob and Harlean were clearly on the way to realizing their dream!

As Bob became seasoned in the gas station business he realized there was money to be made in the sales of tires as well. Tires were a partial part of a gas station business and Bob vowed to make it a much more integral part! After negotiations with the city and Gulf Oil, he was able to add another bay onto his building and an additional tire warehouse as well. Now, remembering that in the early 70’s there were just a handful of tire sizes, Bob pretty much had enough stock on hand to satisfy most customers that rang the bell driving in.


With the business in full swing the Lees were about to be hit again with another blow below the belt. Around 1975, Gulf Oil decided to completely leave the west coast taking all, including Bob and Harlean’s station, with them. The move was even featured on the show “Weekend,” which featured an interview with Bob.

Now with the second business literally taken away, Bob and Harlean searched for another location. This time their focus was mainly on the tire industry, having had enough with the oil industry! After a few months of searching they found a tire store that was up for sale on Hawthorne Boulevard in Torrance. This seemed to fit the bill. After again negotiating with banks and some friends, Bob and Harlean were able to close the deal and Lee’s Tires was born.

Officially opened in 1975 Lee’s Tires represented Bob’s vision of what he should be doing. No longer would he have to do what the Oil Companies wanted, but could focus and drive his business his way.

The first day at the property on Hawthorne Blvd total purchases for the day were $11.95…a radial tube! Not phased in the least, Bob and Harlean soldiered on, even fixing brake jobs done incorrectly by the previous owner at no cost to the customer!

Bob’s brother Wayne was in charge of the mechanical end of the business as well as sales in the front office. Wayne also worked with Bob at the Gulf station where he was a mechanic and service writer as well. Slowly the business began to take off. Bob and Harlean spent many a-night delivering line cards and trinkets to local neighbors to drum up business! Establishing service as a priority, which was rare in the automotive business at the time, Lee’s Tires began to grow and become established in the community.

After a few years and fearing the promises of lease renewal, Bob decided to start looking for another building to house Lee’s Tires. The current location was wonderful but lacked the capacity to hold a lot of cars at one time. At the same time the current lease company was not cooperating with their original promise for a lease extension. After negotiations broke down for good, Bob and Harlean again found themselves looking for a place to house their business.

This time they were ready and quickly found an open lot on Lomita Blvd. near Western. The lot was large enough and was purchased with plans to build the way they wanted for the first time, their way!

The current Lee’s Tires location building started during one of the rainiest winters in years. The lot looked more like a flood zone than a tire store location but eventually it all worked out.

Two years later, the final resting place of Lee’s Tires was born.

In 1996 Bob started a buying group to compete with the larger chains’ pricing. The group started with 5 members who were all local businesses looking for the same advantage. As the group grew so did Lee’s Tires and the buying power as a whole. As of 2011 the buying group ITDG was 349 stores strong and has stores all across the US!

Sadly, in 2007, we lost both Bob and Harlean to illnesses. However, they had trained their son and many others in their way of doing business. Those individuals keep the tradition going strong and will for many more years.

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Lee's Tires

Lee's Tires is a pillar of the Lomita, CA community. Lee's Tires is a leader in offering name brand tires, auto repair and brake services for customers located in and around the Lomita, California area. Our goal is to focus on customer service. It is the foundation of our business. Lee's Tires employs a well-trained staff specializing in the sale and installation of passenger car, performance and light truck or SUV tires. Complete under-car services, such as oil changes, brakes, shocks, struts, alignment, and four wheel drive system services are readily available at competitive prices. Take this opportunity to browse Lee's Tires website or call us for personalized service.

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Phone: (310) 378-8301
Fax: (310) 530-3115
Address: 1864 Lomita Blvd.
Lomita, CA 90717

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