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#SEMA/GTE: Tire Industry Meets to Honor Excellence

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From left: TIA's Freda Pratt-Boyer; TR publisher Randy Loeser; Tania Flynn-Warminski; Jim Flynn; Anne Flynn; TR editor Jim Smith; Joe Durkoske; Mark Zvolensky; and TIA's Roy Littlefield.

From left: TIA’s Freda Pratt-Boyer; TR publisher Randy Loeser; Tania Flynn-Warminski; Jim Flynn; Anne Flynn; TR editor Jim Smith; Joe Durkoske; Mark Zvolensky; and TIA’s Roy Littlefield.

Last night was an evening of fun and festivities as industry veterans were inducted into the Tire Industry Hall of Fame during TIA’s annual pre-SEMA Show/Global Tire Expo event, Tire Industry Honors, held at Caesar’s Palace.

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This year, three individuals were inducted into the Hall of Fame: Harold Coker, founder of Coker Tire Co.; Charles Cornell, the late founder of Tech International; and Juanita Purcell, executive vice president of Purcell Tire & Rubber Co.

Both Coker and Purcell were on hand to accept their awards, while the late Cornell’s granddaughter, Cheryl Poulton, accepted his award.

Harold Coker started his career in the tire industry with B.F. Goodrich before founding Coker Tire Co. in 1958. He retired from active participation in the business in 2004, but still serves as chairman of the board emeritus for the company.

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Coker also served as president of the National Tire Dealers and Retreaders Association in 1985. During his tenure, he spearheaded the effort to get the NTDRA into government affairs and lobbied for bills like voluntary tire registration. He was also instrumental in starting and raising money for the association’s PAC. Additionally, Coker was also chairman of the committee to establish Money Express, a credit card exclusively for tire dealers nationwide.

Charles Cornell noticed the need for better tire and tube repairs while working in the rubber industry. In 1939, he founded Technical Rubber Co. in Johnstown, Ohio. Cornell developed a self-vulcanizing process that repaired tire and tubes in hot or cold applications, revolutionizing the tire repair industry. The innovation led to a complete line of tire and tube repair products and set the stage for product breakthroughs at Tech International that included self-vulcanizing inserts, centering radial repairs and Uni-Seal repair units.

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Now, 75 years after Cornell began creating tire repairs, Tech International has grown to become an international manufacturer and distributor of more than 10,000 tire repair, wheel service and industrial rubber products with 14 international offices and customers in 95 countries. Cornell passed away in 1952.

Accepting HOF nominations were (from left) Harold Coker; Cheryl Poulton, granddaughter of the late Charles Cornell; and Juanita Purcell.

Accepting HOF nominations were (from left) Harold Coker; Cheryl Poulton, granddaughter of the late Charles Cornell; and Juanita Purcell.

Juanita Purcell is the executive vice president of Purcell Tire, overseeing the company’s operations. Juanita joined the Purcell Tire when her father-in-law Robert M. Purcell invited her and her husband Bob to help run the company’s three stores in 1964. In 1970, after the death of Robert, Bob and Juanita took over the whole company, which consisted of a retread plant in DeSoto, Mo., and three stores.

Today, Purcell Tire consists of three corporate office locations, four retread plants, two wholesale centers, 21 commercial centers, 25 retail and nine mining locations. While Bob spent much of his time on the road, Juanita ran the operations of the company from the headquarters in Potosi, Mo.

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Several other award recipients were named, as well. Three recipients received the Ed Wagner Leadership Award, Michelin and TIA awarded scholarships, and Tire Review’s Top Shop recipient was honored.

Jim Smith, editor of Tire Review, Mary Sikora, publisher/editor of Scrap Tire News, and Tom Wright, Sr., owner of Wright Tire Service, all received the Ed Wagner Industry Leadership Award.

Tire Review’s 2014 Top Shop Winner, Flynn’s Tire & Auto Service, was represented by family members and staff; owners Tania Flynn-Warminski, Anne Flynn and Jim Flynn, and Joe Durkoske and Mark Zvolensky.

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Michelin North America and TIA presented its scholarship to three students: Alexa Swingle of Columbia, S.C.; Zachary Taylor of Litchfield, Ill.; and Kaitlyn Wade of Benton Habor, Mich.

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