WTC and the Evolving Name Game - Tire Review Magazine

WTC and the Evolving Name Game

So the good people of Ephrata, Wash., want to know if all is as it appears to be.

Well good for them.

As we reported the other day, the Port of Ephrata is demanding proof that Washington Tire Corp. (nee American Tire Corp. and Colorado Tire Corp.) is actually a corp. – a legally incorporated company – and that its purported president Abraham Hengyucius is who he says he is.

Somewhere along the line, someone clued port manager Mike Wren into the mysterious past of WTC and its leader, and learned at Hengyucius’ real name is Hengyu Zhang. Wren now wants certification that both Hengyucius and WTC are legit.

Now, the name thing is really not that odd. It is not at all unusual for transplants from China, South Korea or Japan to adopt Western-style names while doing business here. That is probably the case here.

But Hengyu Zhang has also showed up in the past in connection with an odd non-profit. In March 2009, friend of the show Kurt Hartman wrote in his former Heavy Treaddin’ blog about Hengyucius’ other interests, most notably as resident professor/president and philosopher for the World Hongming Foundation, which was described on its now defunct website as “a tax-exempt, educational and research institution in the USA.”

Quoting from Hartman’s original text: “Upon arrival, circa 2001-2002, he (Hengyucius) immediately filed for 501c3 recognition of a non-profit which would become known as the World Hongming Foundation. He received this certification, and the company is still legally registered as a non-profit in the state of California. Interestingly enough, although he claims to be president of the World Hongming Foundation, all of the tax returns for World Hongming list a ‘Dr. Hengyu Zhang’ as president on form 990. This is the tax return that non-profits must file with the IRS…Dr. Zhang has been listed as President on every single tax return since the inception of the organization.”

Again, nothing really unusual in Westernizing a name for business purposes. I have a Rolodex full of business cards from Asian contacts that feature their chosen Western name. Except the Port of Ephrata and local residents deserve to know more about the mysterious Dr. Hengyucius.

As for Washington Tire Corp. – and its predecessors – well, one could easily call into question whether any of them was ever actually incorporated. Any company can call itself a “company” or “corporation” without the legalities of actually being incorporated.

But for the purposes of wanting to buy 97 acres of land to build a claimed $1 billion tire plant – which, by the way, would be the most expensive tire plant ever built anywhere – it might be nice that the purchaser actually be a legal entity.

Hengyucius has until Aug. 25 to provide proof and explanations for the discrepancies. And he also apparently hasn’t fully explained where all WTC’s financial backing is coming from, or if it can pull together $1 billion.

Still, according to local news reports, Wren and local residents are uneasy. Wren said port officials are “questioning whether they should enter into that land agreement with Washington Tire,” and that he is fielding “25 phone calls a day about this project.”

“We don’t want this to spin out of control,” Wren was quoted as saying. “We also can’t tell people that we’re headed down the right road when something like this comes up.”

Indeed. As Hartman put it: Hengyucius continues further down the rabbit hole.

You May Also Like

Akebono names new regional sales manager

Erick Kinnunen joins Akebono with more than 40 years of experience in aftermarket sales, training and management.


Akebono Brake Corporation announced the addition of Erick Kinnunen as its new regional sales manager.

“We are thrilled to welcome Erick Kinnunen to the Akebono aftermarket team. His extensive experience and passion for the automotive industry make him a perfect fit for our mission to deliver top-quality brakes and exceptional service to our customers. We are confident that his expertise will help drive our growth and strengthen our presence in the market,” Tommy Rivera, senior director of Akebono Aftermarket Team at Akebono Brake Corporation said.

How succession planning sets your shop up for success

Just like it’s smart to plan ahead before taking a road trip, your shop should be prepared to plan for the next steps.

TR-Continental-succession planning
Apollo Tyres launches Vredestein Ultrac Pro UUHP summer tire

The Vredestein Ultrac Pro is 13% lighter than its predecessor, comes in 18- to 24 in. sizes, and caters to a diverse array of vehicles.

Yokohama Tire releases the GEOLANDAR A/T4 G018 tire

Over 50 LT-metric sizes are expected to be available by year end and more than 130 Euro-metric and LT-metric sizes are planned.

TEXA runs car diagnostic tool promotion

The promotion is active through Aug. 31.

Other Posts
Everything you ever wanted to know about Formula E tires

Learn how tire technology affects the highest level of all-electric racing from three different perspectives: The president of Hankook Tire North America, a tire engineer, and a Formula E driver.

Vogue Tyre adds two new sizes to its custom built radial lineup

New sizes include the 275/50R22 Custom Built Radial SCT2 White/Gold and the 245/40R19 Custom Built Radial White/Gold.

Hanook’s iON evo to be OE on the Porsche Taycan electric sports car

Hankook said it succeeded in increasing the iON evo’s sustainability without having to compromise tire safety and performance.

Pirelli named tire partner for the Audi RS 4 Avant 25 year edition

The anniversary edition of the sports estate car has two tire options: Pirelli P Zero Corsa and Pirelli P Zero Trofeo RS tires.