SkywayTools.com History

SkywayTools.com History

Posted by Sherry Gillis on Jan 28th 2016

SkywayTools.com is the online presence for Skyway Tools, a retail tool store founded in 1986 by Doug Gillis. Doug met his wife, co-owner Sherry Gillis, in 1989 and they married in 1992.

Doug originally started Skyway Tools with a partner in a very small building on the Skyway in Paradise, CA, USA. Three weeks after opening the doors to the business, the partner approached Doug and asked him how he liked selling tools and having the tool store. Doug said he really enjoyed selling tools and having the tool store was a perfect line of business for him. The partner then informed him that he hated selling tools and wanted out - in fact, he didn't want to come to work the next day! Gillis bought out the partner and was on his own in the tool business.

Doug Gillis at the Rib Cookoff at Bambi Inn in 2014
Doug Gillis at the Rib Cookoff Memorial Day Weekend, 2014

He sold quite a few tools in the original small store and learned from the customers what he needed to carry in the tool store. Two years later, in early 1989, the hardware store across the street went out of busiiness and Doug rented that location, moving across the street iin the summer of 1989.

Sherry Gillis met Doug in August, 1989 and it was love at first sight for both of them. Sherry had lots of experience in offices and with computers, so she began helping Doug with the paperwork, quickly becoming indispensable in the quickly growing tool store. The couple married in 1992 and Doug adopted Sherry's daughter, Suzanne. The family complete, the Gillis' worked hard to build their tool business, expanding by opening a second tool store in 1993 in Chico, CA. The couple ran back and forth between the two tool stores for several years.


Sherry, always interested in computers, discovered the internet in 1994 and became increasingly involved in selling tools online. SkywayTools.com was founded in 1995 and has been steadily selling automotive tools and automotive specialty tools since that time. With the additional channel of money coming in from online automotive tool sales, the Gillis Family decided to close the original store in 1997 and move everything under one roof in their second store on Mangrove Avenue in Chico, Ca.

The family sold tools and automotive specialty tools in their store into the new millenium. They purchased property at the corner of Bruce Road at the Skyway in Chico in 2002 and built a state-of-the-art, 6500 sq ft tool store there over the next three years, moving into the new tool store on June 13, 2005.

Skyway Tools became Skyway Tool Center after the 2005 move into the new building. The tool store sells automotive specialty tools, general automotive tools, air, hand and power tools to mechanics, contractors, construction workers, homeowners, farmers, ranchers and a host of other professional and amateur tool users, both locally and internationally. SkywayTools.com ships tools and automotive specialty tools to customers around the globe, providing reliable, friendly, secure and fast service to tool users worldwide.