Behind The Wheels

Written by Leah LeMoine Category: Valley News Issue: November 2017
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Phoenix car shop owner Dave Martin helps others with spina bifida

Dave Martin
photo courtesy Dave Martin

At Martin’s Auto Repair in Central Phoenix, Dave Martin and his nine employees diagnose and deter problems on an array of foreign and domestic vehicles. Martin has always been surrounded by wheels, he says. He started pulling weeds, picking up trash and pumping gas at his dad’s Chevron station as a boy and learned every job in the automotive industry, buying the family auto shop from his father about 12 years ago. But even before he began toiling among the exhaust, Martin was acquainted with wheels.

“I was born with spina bifida,” he says. “I’ve been in a wheelchair all my life.”

When Martin was born in 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was a distant dream. “There were steps, there were no elevators. Everything was more difficult, so I had to learn how to do things differently than somebody who was walking,” he says. “In a positive way, it taught me how to problem-solve, because I’m too stubborn to turn around and go back, so I always figured out a way to go over it or around it or through it. I think that’s probably one of the biggest reasons why I have a successful business. I always figure out a way.”

For the past seven years, Martin has been helping others with spina bifida find a way through his work as the chairman of the board of the Spina Bifida Association of Arizona. At this November’s annual Walk-N-Roll for Spina Bifida event on November 18 at Steele Indian School Park (, Martin and a coalition of pals in the Neighborhood Auto Repair Professionals (NARPRO) are donating an adaptive van to a family in need.

“That’s the expensive part – putting lifts, hand controls and remote seats in there is really expensive,” Martin says of outfitting vehicles for special-needs drivers and passengers. “Getting them [kids with spina bifida] in and out of vehicles, it’s tougher. It’s hard on the parents. This is a really good thing. They can roll right in and roll right out.”

It’s something Martin has perfected over the years.


Foreign Investment
In June, the beloved Phoenix Chinese Cultural Center was sold by longtime owner COFCO, a company owned by the People’s Republic of China. You read that right: The Chinese Cultural Center was legitimately Chinese for 20 years. While its fate is in flux as new owner True North Companies plans renovations, we rounded up some other Arizona businesses with “direct foreign investment,” according to In Business.

Circle K
Montreal’s Couche-Tard owns and manages Circle Ks in the Phoenix area. Un Polar Pop, s’il vous plaît.

Phoenix Rising FC Soccer Club
Ivorian (from Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa) footballer Didier Drogba serves as striker and co-owner for the Phoenix Major League Soccer team.

Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
A Chinese princess, that is. The Fairmont (and dozens of other high-end resorts around the world) is owned by Beijing-based Anbang Insurance Group.

Tucson Electric Power
The Old Pueblo’s electric company is powered by Canadian investor Fortis. It gets hot down there, ey.