Charles C. Gates, Sr. was fond of exhorting people to "throw your hat across the creek." The expression came from the Old West, where crossing rivers and creeks was difficult for covered wagons. Pioneers sometimes threw their hats to the other side as an incentive to cross. Tossing the hat was a solid commitment to moving forward. This spirit of commitment and determination has been a hallmark of the Gates family and all of its endeavors over the last century.
The Gates Family
The Legacy Begins
The story of the Gates family in Colorado
begins when Charles C. Gates, Sr. arrived from Michigan in 1904 to
work in the gold mines near Tincup. He moved
on to Nevada, working as a nomad engineer for several years before
returning to Denver in 1910, tempted by love at the age of 32. Taking
his life savings of $700 and
$2,800 more, he purchased the Colorado Tire and Leather
Company, which made leather bands that were attached to bald tires to
extend tire life. He was quickly joined by his brother John and his
new bride Hazel in a business that consisted of meager inventory,
"salted" orders, a rented typewriter and one employee. He considered
it "an opportunity in work clothes," and with courage and a fresh
a prosperous enterprise was born.
The Company Expands
Following World War I, the company expanded
its product line to encompass a broad range of rubber
products, all manufactured in Denver. From the 1950s
onward, the company expanded domestic and
international sales and production facilities. Forty-year-
old Charles Gates, Jr. assumed leadership of the firm upon
his father's death in 1961 when sales totaled $140 million.
The Company Evolves
In August 1996, the firm's core rubber business was merged into Tomkins plc, a British firm, in a transaction valued
at $1.1 billion, ending 85 years of family ownership. The family retained its non-rubber businesses and consolidated them under the Cody banner, acknowledging Wild Bill Cody's role in launching the original venture eighty years earlier.
In the 1990s, Charles Gates, Jr. initiated a transfer of family leadership to the next generation,
a process that was completed well in advance of his death in August 2005.