Lou Miranda’s business may be called OK Tire, but its track record is a lot better than OK; in fact, it’s rolling into its 60th year in Pompano Beach this year.
It’s one of the old family businesses—a dying breed—that everyone knows and uses and depends on, year after year. Many Boca people have been going there for decades for car repairs and maintenance, tires, you name it. And much of that’s undoubtedly due to Lou Miranda, who started it when he was pretty much still a kid.
Miranda was born and reared in Miami, where his father was a successful bootlegger in the 1920s, selling whiskey to Al Capone on Star Island among other clients before the family entered the wholesale plumbing business. “Then my brothers—who have all died—were all plumbers, working on the Eden Roc and Fountainebleu back in those days.”
Miranda took a different path, working part-time in high school up in Fort Lauderdale for a man who owned a tire business. After he was married at 19, he worked for him in Sunrise and West Palm before taking over the business when they moved it to Pompano.
“We ran the West Palm store for a little bit and then we closed it and moved the equipment to Pompano. [Back then] he’d had five stores and decided to sell them, and he gave me an option to buy the Pompano one,” he says. “Because I was a worker. I worked my butt off all the time. He said, ‘you’re paying the bills, you’re doing fine, you can make it,’ and I said, ‘what if I don’t?’ And he said, ‘if you don’t, you’ve got nothing to lose. I’ll take it back. You don’t have to put anything down, just give me $500 a month for four years at 10 percent.’ I was scared. I was 20 years old and I didn’t have a nickel.”
But even a scared 20-year-old knew opportunity was knocking, so he accepted the offer, and as he puts it, “from thence we’ve built and grown and built and grown and maintained the family business.”
That was 1960. Miranda recalls the early days when Dixie Highway was two lanes, Sample Road ended at Third Avenue, and the North Broward Medical Center wasn’t built yet.
“There was no home delivery for the newspaper,” he says. “I had to run up to Shopper’s Haven to get a newspaper every morning; there was just nothing. There were a couple of restaurants. On a Friday night we’d go out to eat in Margate at a place called Norris’s Catfish Restaurant and have maybe a beer and a catfish and that was it.”
Miranda lives in Lighthouse Point these days. He was married for 34 years before getting divorced, and has three kids. His daughter-in-law owns Olympia Flame Diner. He is about to turn 80 this year, but he still comes to work every day. His competitors today are the big stores—the Pep Boys and the Tire Kingdoms. But he knows OK Tire offers something they do not—old-fashioned customer service and longevity. He has people who have worked with him 30, 40 years, plus his two sons.
“What makes my business different is that when you come back here, you see the same faces all the time. And we treat our people fair, our prices are fair, the quality of work has got to be best. So we try to make it all good the first time; if it’s our responsibility, we take care of it. We’re honest with people—that’s all.”
As for the future, Miranda doesn’t plan on hitting a golf course or retiring anytime soon.
“I have to keep myself occupied,” he says. “I can’t just sit around and watch TV; I get crazy. That’s the way I am. I have no regrets, I can’t complain.”
This story is part of the Gold Standards feature from the July/August 2020 issue of Boca magazine. To see more of the Gold Standards feature, click here. For more content like this, subscribe to the magazine.