"If we don't have it, you don't need it."
The slogan might sound arrogant, but the three owners of Allied Development Co. have enough items in their stores to back it up.One visit to Allied's main (and largest) store, 6400 S. State, will convince even critics that there aren't many things this company doesn't handle. Allied has other stores at 160 N. Main, Tooele, and 9425 S. 700 East, Sandy.
Co-owners Roland Davis, Theron Jolley and Tom Cowley admit their store isn't the prettiest in town, but they know their customers aren't swayed by fancy display cases, expensive on-site advertising or a fancy building.
The stores' owners are interested in providing hundreds of items, many things people don't know exist, to fill a need in the outdoors and also around the house or shop. Chances are that if you need some oddball item you can find it at Allied.
Davis, Jolley and Cowley don't of-ten use their company's full name because "development" to them means land development and they certainly aren't in that business. But over the years they have "developed" a reputation and have become one of the most well-known companies in Utah.
Allied was founded in 1946 in downtown Salt Lake City shortly after World War II and originally sold war surplus items. After a month the company owners, Leslie Davis (Roland's brother), C.H. McFarland and Nate Larson, moved to its pres-ent location.
They bought the Gillen Brothers Livery and Feed, a livery stable where southern Salt Lake County residents left their horses "in the old days" and rode the streetcar to Salt Lake City. Leslie Davis sold the Airways Motor Coach Coach Co. to Utah Light and Traction Co. and used the money to purchase the livery stable and get started in the war surplus business.
A surplus training airplane used to sit in front of the Allied store and it caught the eye of thousands of people driving down State Street daily. The three owners wish they still had the old plane.
Cowley started with Allied in December 1951, Jolley came to the company in 1953 and Roland Davis started in 1957. In 1955 the company built a new 15,000-square-foot store over the remodeled livery stable, which was removed.
In the mid-1970s, Allied added 10,000 square feet of retail space, built 10,000 square-feet of space for selling sprinkler systems and fencing equipment and now have 63,000 square feet of space in addition to a distribution center where their Christmas tree operations flourishes in season.
Allied has 170 full-time employees, but that balloons to 300 during the hunting and Christmas seasons.
A native of Sandy, Cowley started at Allied when he was 16 years old. He began in the Christmas tree operation, which was started in 1948, mainly as a promotion. Trees were selling for 99 cents at that time, he recalled. He worked part time during school, and when he graduated from high school he started with Allied as a clerk in charge of the hardware department.
Cowley came into company ownership in 1961 and serves as president now that all of the original owners have died.
Jolley is a Park City native who went to Pocatello, Idaho, after graduating from high school and worked in a venetian blind shop and for Dinwoody Furniture Co. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1951 and served until 1953.
In the Army, Jolley met Fred Lee, who had worked at Allied before his service and whose uncle still worked there. The uncle obtained jobs for both when they returned to Utah. Jolley managed the shoe department and was instrumental in starting the sporting goods portion of Allied.
Jolley recalls Allied had a few rifles and some ammunition for sale so he took $3,000 and purchased some fishing tackle and other items from a Salt Lake company and got into the sporting goods business in earnest. He said Allied mainly handles items for outdoor recreation and leaves the golf, tennis and swimming equipment to others.
The 77-year-old Roland Davis is a native of Streeter, N.D., but his family moved to New York when he was 7 and he stayed there until he graduated from high school. He couldn't find work in New York so at 18 years old he moved to Casper, Wyo., where he drove a bus for his brother, Leslie.
Roland belonged to the horse cavalry of the Wyoming National Guard and served on active duty from 1941-46. He entered the general insurance business in Casper but started with Allied in 1957 when Leslie was president. Like his two partners, Roland's ownership in Allied gradually evolved as the original owners died.
Much of Allied's success can be attributed to the owners' ability to offer a variety of items people need and some things people might use infrequently but that are nice to have on hand. It also can be attributed to the company's evolution from a strong emphasis on war surplus items to a store that picks up some company overruns, excess items and blemished products.
When the company first started, war surplus items were plentiful because of the surrounding military installation like Tooele Army Depot, Defense Depot Ogden, Clearfield Naval Supply Depot and Hill Air Force Base. But now, the three men said, war surplus items are getting scarce so they have gotten into many more lines of goods, many with national brand names.
Although it's seasonal, Allied's Christmas tree lots are a big part of their business. This year they will handle 100,000 trees. This year the company will have 45 lots from Ogden to Spanish Fork.
Allied's owners rely of their reputation for business, but they also do some advertising and have their own advertising department. Salt Lake newspaper readers are familiar with Allied's advertising featuring a series of small boxes, each containing one product for sale.
The company has used a cartoon man in the corner of their advertising for many years and his appearance changes as the seasons change. For example, in the spring he will have a rake and hoe in his hands, around Christmas he's dressed like Santa Claus and in the fall he becomes a hunter.
Davis, Jolley and Cowley hold hunter safety courses and Dutch oven cooking classes in their store so people can purchase items like guns and cast iron cookware and learn how to use them.
Allied is famous for its 88-cent bargain tables where shoppers can find hundreds of items and a bargain annex where wallpaper and paint are the big sellers. The three men say they have the largest blue jeans display in the West, sell more hunting and fishing licenses than anybody else in Utah and sell more sleeping bags (10,000 annually) than any competitor.