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Live at SEMA: Four Giants Join Tire Industry Hall of Fame

Bill Fountain, John Gamauf, Onkar Kanwar and Ralph “Buddy” Snow were inducted into the Tire Industry Hall of Fame last night.

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Four memorable contributors were inducted into the TireIndustry Hall of Fame last night at TIA’s third annual Tire Industry Honorsevent.

The highly international Tire Industry Hall of Fame Class of2011 includes:

• Bill Fountain, co-founder Canada’s Fountain Tire.

• John Gamauf, former head of Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.’sconsumer tire division.

• Onkar Kanwar, chairman of India’s Apollo Tyres Ltd.

• Ralph “Buddy” Snow, vice president and general counsel forOliver Rubber Co.

Founding Edmonton, Alb.-based Fountain Tire in 1956, Bill and Jack Fountainopened the first Fountain Tire store in Wainwright, Alb. Bill’s vision anddrive led the company to add agricultural tire services to meet the needs oflocal farmers and to eventually expand the business into more rural areas. Heestablished stores in Fort St. John, B.C., and Whitehorse, Yukon Territories –towns that serviced much of the burgeoning Alaska Highway. In 1967, Fountainand other tire dealers from Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta formedAstro Tire & Rubber Co., creating their own private label tire brand. In1976, 20 years after he had started the business, Bill was killed in a tragiccar accident. Today, Fountain Tire has 145 locations across western Canada.

john gamauf, former head of bridgestone/firestone inc.'s consumer tire division

Gamauf joined the former Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. in1969 as a general service technician at one of its Chicago retail stores.Quickly rising through the ranks, Gamauf became one of the most dynamic andinfluential individuals in the tire industry, and is widely considered as a keyplayer in Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.’s – and the Firestone brand’s – survivalfrom the Ford/Firestone tire recall of 2000. He was also primarily responsiblefor creating the tiremaker’s Affiliated Dealer Program, a core component of thecompany’s “family channel” philosophy. In May 2003, he assumed the title ofpresident of consumer replacement tire for Bridgestone/Firestone North AmericanTire, and he served in this capacity until his retirement in May 2008.

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Onkar Kanwar’s leadership was key to the turnaround andmodernization of Apollo Tyre. Under his leadership, Apollo Tyres transformeditself from an ailing company to become the number one tire manufacturer inIndia and now a global entity with a full-fledged product portfolio,manufacturing facilities on three continents and multiple brands across productsegments. He has been closely associated with leading national andinternational industry organizations, including serving as president of FICCIand chairman of Asian Tyre Manufacturers Association. An initiative close tohis heart is Apollo Tyres’ HIV-AIDS awareness and prevention program for localcommunities.

During TIA's Tire Industry Honors event last evening, 2011 Tire Review Top Award winner Virginia Tire & Auto was formally introduced. One hand for the announcement were (from left) Tire Review publisher David Moniz; Julie Holmes, Myron Boncarosky, Carole Boncarosky and Mike Holmes of Virginia Tire; and Tire Review editor Jim Smith.

Ralph “Buddy” Snow started his career in the retreadindustry with his family-owned business, Dixie-Cap, in 1965. In 1969, he waselected president of Dixie-Cap and served in that capacity until the companywas acquired by Oliver Rubber Co. in 1979. For the next 23 years, he served asthe vice president and general counsel for Oliver Rubber, until retiring in2002. He was one of the founders of the Tread Rubber & Tire RepairMaterials Manufacturing Group, and was actively involved in the formation ofthe Tire Retread Information Bureau, where he served as corporate secretary andas a member of its board of directors. He also helped form the Retread IndustryGovernment Advisory Council.

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The Tire Industry Honors event also featured award winnersand honorees from tire industry publications, such as Tire Review’s Top ShopAward winner and Modern Tire Dealer’s recognition of the outgoing TIA presidentMike Berra. In addition, the event saw the formal installation of TIA incomingpresident Larry Brandt.

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