Three generations provided tires, service and more in Twisp
Tracing the history of Cascade King’s tire and automotive service in Twisp includes a tour of various local real estate sites that the family-owned company occupied during nearly a century of doing business.
The current location, on Highway 20 adjacent to the commercial fuel station and car wash that the company also operates, will be the last for King’s.
Clay King, third-generation owner of Cascade King’s, closed the tire and automotive part of the business at the end of May and sold the building to Hank Konrad of Hank’s Harvest Foods. He is still operating the commercial fuel station and car wash, which are also or sale. The tire business itself is also on the market separate from the building. King said he will sell all three businesses separately or in combination.
Reminiscing in his office, King points to a faded black-and-white photograph with historic import. The photo, taken in 1936 at King’s Garage in what is now the Hometown Pizza Building on Highway 20, includes Clay’s father, Marion King, at age 6; Clay’s grandfather and company founder Curtis King; and Uncle Al. Curtis King started the Twisp business in 1927 after operating a gas station in Wenatchee.
Way before all of that, King said, his grandparents came in to the valley in 1894 in a wagon, via the Chilliwist trail.
In 1951, Marion King moved the business across Highway 20 and built a new shop called King’s Tires. That building eventually became the Twisp River Pub after it was sold to Aaron Studen around 2000, and King’s moved down the highway. “We had the equipment, the customer base and the contacts,” King said. The car wash and Pacific Pride franchise fuel station were added along the way.
Clay bought the business from his father in 1994. His younger brother Brad, a technician who worked at the garage for many years, decided to retire last year, precipitating the decision to sell. Neither of his two daughters is interested in carrying on the business, Clay said.
After being raised in the Methow Valley and graduating from Twisp High School in 1970, King left for other parts for many years before returning in the 1990s. He says he “had to do a lot of soul-searching” before deciding to return. But the valley he encountered was much different from the one he grew up in. “I was dumbfounded and in awe of all the nonprofits and the opportunities here,” he said. “During my 20-year absence, it blossomed.”
King is a devoted supporter of local arts and finds that “my social calendar is often conflicted … it’s mind-blowing.” He is especially grateful for how the valley rallied after the devastation of the Carlton Complex Fire.
King plans to stay in the valley, and perhaps build a home on the Balky Hill property he owns after divesting himself of the businesses. He will also likely expand his wine collection, which has been growing since he took an interest several years ago.
He expects to stay active in the community. “There’s never going to be void where there’s nothing to support,” King said. The Methow Valley Interpretive Center, he said, “is especially dear to my heart.”
The Cascade King’s garage building is immediately adjacent to property owned by Hank and Judy Konrad, which they are developing as a commercial site. Two buildings are planned for the site. The Konrads purchased the dilapidated Blue Spruce Motel in 2016 and demolished it to make room for the commercial development on 1.5 acres that front Highway 20 at the south end of Twisp. Hank Konrad said last week that the newly purchased site also has the potential for more commercial development.