By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV
February 19, 2023
Thirty-three years ago, Darrell and Patsy Cornwell decided to open a new business in Ronceverte. Darrell previously sold tires at Ripco and wanted to continue offering that service to local residents.
It was a Friday when they submitted the paperwork for Factory Tire Outlet to the bank. On that Saturday, Darrell was involved in a serious car accident. When he regained consciousness on Sunday, the first thing he said to Patsy was, “Call the bank and tell them I’m going ahead with the loan.”
Darrell was in the hospital for six weeks and then spent additional time in rehabilitation. He ended up losing both legs as a result of that accident. But as soon as he was well, the Cornwells proceeded to open the business.
Patsy says it was never a question. “He had that much determination to make this business work,” she remembers.
Darrell died in February 2020, but his dream lives on. Patsy and the staff changed the name slightly to Darrell’s Factory Tire Outlet. “We did that to honor him,” she says. “People wondered why we changed the name, if we sold it or something, but we did it to honor Darrell.”
Patsy is the owner and operator of the business today, and she is quick to point out that it’s a team effort. “Without the guys in the shop and Heather and Van, we wouldn’t be here,” she confides. “We have a wonderful team.”
Heather Glover works in the front with customers. She babysat for the Cornwells as a teenager, and they hired her at the shop 25 years ago. “I trust Heather with my life,” Patsy says.
Van James married Darrell & Patsy’s daughter, Amanda. He began at the shop in 2007. “I couldn’t have picked a better son-in-law or co-worker,” Patsy offers. “He is such a good person.”
Additionally, seven guys who work in the shop have a combined 102 years of experience at Factory Tire. “They’re all truly like family,” Patsy says. “We work together everyday and care about each other.”
‘It’s the people’
For Patsy and her team, it truly is all about the customers. She advises anyone doing business in a small town to put customers first. “You won’t make it without repeat customers. It’s all about treating people right. You’ve got to love your customers to stay in business.”
The secret to her success? She says it’s simple, “It’s the people. I love the people, the customers, the employees. The key is to be good to people and take care of them.”
Judging from the comments of customers in the waiting room, the feeling is mutual. They pointed to low prices, reliable work, and good customer service as reasons they chose to do business with Factory Tire.
While some folks assume the shop only handles tires, they also do alignments, oil changes, inspections, brakes, and front end work. They also provide free pickup and delivery service of your vehicle when they perform work on it.
After 33 years, Patsy is starting to think about the future. “All I’ve ever done is work,” she tells me. “I don’t travel or have interests. It’s time for me to do some things I want to do. Spend time in the garden, love on my grandkids, watch some television.”
She feels confident Van, Heather, and the team will keep things moving forward. “I know it’s in good hands,” she says. “I’ll turn it over to the young ones soon. Van will take over the business, Heather will keep it running smoothly, and our guys will keep our customers on the road.”