Our 90+ Year History
Wilhelm Automotive’s longtime presence in Arizona began in the late 1880s when the original settlers arrived from Peoria, Illinois. Tuck Blackwell set up a blacksmith shop to serve the hardy souls making the desert their new home. He eventually sold his shop, and it became the Jennings Brother’s Garage.
In 1928, young Joe Wilhelm who was only in his early 20s partnered up with his uncle John Ansel to buy the Jennings Brother’s Garage, and they opened Wilhelm Garage. The farmers of the early West Valley depended on Wilhelm Garage to keep their machinery in running order —often accepting crates of vegetables as payment.
In 1979, Joe Wilhelm looked to sell the business. He would only sell to someone who had the same ideals and beliefs that he did because he wanted the business to keep the reputation it had earned over the years. Up stepped Charley and Mary Jane Gyder.
The Gyder family was very similar to the Wilhelms. They were involved and well respected in the local community. So, Joe turned the reigns of the Peoria store over to them because he knew that it would be in capable hands. Other family members that are currently with Wilhelm include Charley’s sons Thom and Doug Gyder, Charley’s grandsons, Chris Garman and Marshall Gyder.
The Gyders, their family and their employees have continued to carry on the established traditions and work ethic and watched their staff grow from 10 to 52 employees.
Passing on the Tradition
Chris Garman joined the family business in the year 2000. As President Chris has been responsible for managing the home office team, managing the business office and company wide support for all of our auto repair facilities. Marketing to our customer needs is his specialty.
Chris graduated with honors from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s and Masters Degree. Chris maintained his family life and working in the business while completing this task. Chris is married with 2 daughters. You can find him on weekends enjoying his family, sports and relaxing.
Wilhelm Automotive continues to thrive throughout the Valley as we continue to grow and open new stores. Our goals remain the same…providing great service and the best in automotive repairs and parts to our customers at a convenient location to their home or office.
We also enjoy giving back to the community. To learn more about Wilhelm’s philanthropic efforts click here.