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The history of D & T Golf Cars has a very unconventional beginning...
In 1966, The only retail business east of Stapley Drive was opened as Apache Wells Enco, a four pump, two bay service station. The premise was to serve the infant development directly north of it, Apache Wells Mobile Home Community. The development boasted a nine hole golf course and approximately 50 mobile home sites. We opened our doors in May 1966 and there we spent a quiet summer. At the time, McKellips Road was only 2 lanes, and ended at Power Road (which was then known as the Bush Highway). By autumn, however, Apache Wells came to life as people began arriving with travel trailers to escape the cold winters of their home states and Canadian provinces. Some of the people bought mobile homes, but kept their travel trailers so that they could live the good life during Mesa’s mild winters but still travel the rest of the country in the summers.
The residents of Apache Wells were very appreciative of our service station, many times risking running out of gas just to get back and buy gas from us. We soon built a large number of customers who also trusted us with the servicing of their automobiles. Little by little, our customers would ask whether we could work on their golf cars as well. We started slowly; repairing flat tires, doing lubrications, installing batteries, and doing electrical repairs. There were instances where we had both, a customer’s automobile and golf car on our premises to be serviced on the same day. We soon learned that we could take our time with the automobiles, but, that golf car had to roll now. TEE TIMES, you know!
Before long, Apache Wells added a second nine holes to the golf course and in 1968 another golf course opened approximately one mile east of us on McKellips Road named Camelot Golf Club. During the next few years as Apache Wells expanded to welcome new Arizonans, Homes began to appear around Camelot Golf Club. In Fact, golf began to explode all around East Mesa with the development of “Fountain of the Sun, Leisure World, Sunland Village, Dreamland Villa” and other golf enhanced communities.
Those of you old enough will remember the famous “Gas Crunch of 1973”. All around the country there were lines at service stations, people waiting to fill their tanks. The gas companies didn’t help much, by instituting an allocation system for each of their service stations, allocating a portion of the previous year’s sales to each station. Our allocation was something like seven thousand gallons per month. Which of course we could have sold in one day, but, we in turn had to allocate gas sales in order to spread our supply evenly to all of our customers. With all the governmental interference in the oil industry, we knew that we needed to do something to put the control of our business in our hands.
In early 1974, D & T GOLF CARS was born!
We were contacted by a dealer from Sun City to inquire as to whether we were interested in trying to sell golf cars, noting that we were doing a large golf car repair and service business. We took him up on his offer and represented his brand throughout the following year. My partner and I decided to start to phase out the service station in two years. By early 1976 we were out of the service station business. Up to this time, Cushman was the leader in sales, and it came as quite a shock to the industry when in June of 1975 they ceased production of their number one selling golf car. Within the next month, Otis Elevator Company suspended production of the Otis Golf Car. Something was amiss, what was happening? Why would two profitable companies suddenly cease manufacturing their products?
The answer was that the Polish Government was approached by an individual to build a golf car; He had complete plans to the E Z GO golf car! So the golf car was produced at a fraction of the cost of building it in the United States. And then it came flooding into the United States! Various domestic golf car manufacturers filed suit challenging a law then on the books described as the anti-dumping law. The technical definition of dumping is the act of charging a lower price for a good in a foreign market than one charges for the same good in a domestic market. The makers of the Melex prevailed, and the beginning of what we now view as the “China Syndrome” was born. We were not concerned because we were not representing any golf car manufacturers at this time, but rather we were selling used golf cars which we purchased from all over the United States. In 1978 we contacted The Taylor –Dunn Manufacturing of Anaheim California and became a Tee Bird golf car dealer. Over the next few years, we were selling so many golf cars that we couldn’t keep up with orders. Our success was short lived, however, because by 1980 Taylor Dunn started to phase out the production of their golf car line, and to emphasize production of their industrial vehicles. The industrial line was represented by another dealer in Phoenix, so we were unable to sell Taylor Dunn Industrials. So…… what to do now?
The old adage of “find a need and fill it” worked for us. We noticed that when we were selling a used golf car, the first questions out of the customer’s mouth was, “does is have new batteries? And then the next question was, does it have new tires, then, “gee, the seats look a little shabby”, or “do you have it in another paint color”? That led us to develop our Rebuilt golf car line. I wasn’t a brand new golf car, but, it wasn’t a used golf car either, but it was a line of golf cars that we could guarantee that the batteries were new, the tires were new, the electrical components were replaced, including motor brushes and speed control contacts. Brake shoes were replaced. Mechanically it was as good as new. We expanded our facilities and purchased a paint booth so that we could control the quality and cost of our paint jobs. We purchased a commercial sewing machine so that we do the same for the upholstery and carpeting. And before we knew it, we had a market for the Rebuilt golf car!
Some individuals, however, demand “brand new,” so we aligned ourselves with another manufacturer, Western Golf Car Manufacturing, Inc. Based in Desert Hot Springs, California, near Palm Springs. They were a premium priced golf car that had all the bells and whistles. So we positioned ourselves with the Western for premium golf car buyers, Rebuilt Golf cars for the people who didn’t want to spend quite so much, and used golf cars which were mechanically checked out, but were not rebuilt or repainted and which could be sold for a much lower price. This basic philosophy of having something to fit every taste and pocketbook has been our goal.
Over the years we have represented many different golf car companies, among those were, Taylor Dunn's "Tee Bird", Legend Golf Cars, American Pride Golf Cars, which are no longer in production. We also represented Western Golf Cars which were built in Rancho Mirage California near Palms Springs.
On Mother's Day, May 10th 2015, we suffered a massive fire that almost put us our of business! Because a small facility next to D & T at 5606 E. McKellips was available we were able to continue business in a limited way. It took 18 months to rebuild our facility, and on December 1st. 2016 we reopened. Stop by and see our new roomier Showroom.