Dealer thinks big and scores the world’s largest tire

Hester stands next to his 14-foot-tall Michelin OTR tire on display at his dealership in Bladenboro, N.C. Photo by Josh Shaffer, The News & Observer Publishing Co.

Hester stands next to his 14-foot-tall Michelin OTR tire on display at his dealership in Bladenboro, N.C. Photo by Josh Shaffer, The News & Observer Publishing Co.

What’s a tire dealer from a small town to do to grab customers’ attention to his dealership’s products and services? Display the world’s largest tire, that’s what.

Reynold Hester, co-owner of Hester Tire Pros in Bladenboro, N.C. (population 1,800), tells me. “I just wanted the biggest tire in the world. I called Michelin two or three times and told them I wanted the world’s largest tire for permanent display.

“One day I was out doing yard work, and my cell phone rang. A guy asked me, ‘Are you the dealer who's looking for the world’s largest tire?”

“I said yes, and he said, ‘I’m the man who can make it happen.”

That caller was Bob Reese from Michelin North America Inc. Reese told Hester he had been wanting to display one of Michelin’s OTR tires -- size 59/80R63 – somewhere on the East Coast, somewhere about half the way from New York to Florida. Bladenboro was close enough.

The tire stands 14 feet high and is 5.5 feet wide. It weighs 10,400 pounds. It is made for the 797B Caterpillar dump truck and new, they cost around $55,000.

And Hester’s tire is “brand, spankin’ new,” he says, “not a repaired tire, not a used tire.”

All Hester had to do was pay for the shipping and the new tire was his. “I got it right before the economy tanked -- just had to pay the $700 freight cost. Luckily the factory is pretty close – it’s made in Lexington, S.C. “

However, Hester spent $5,000 on 35 cubic yards of cement to create a permanent base for his giant tire. “I didn’t want it sitting on the ground. “  

And since putting the tire on its pedestal, it has gotten Hester’s dealership a lot of attention, including TV and newspaper coverage, Hester says. “Customers come from 200 to 300 miles away to just look at it. It’s my pride and joy.”

Hester owns Hester Tire Pros with his brother, Robert Hester Jr. His father, Robert Hester Sr., started the company and is now retired. The company sells passenger, light truck, medium truck, farm and other types of tires in any brand their customers need.  

This 80-foot "fake" tire used to be a Ferris wheel at a world's fair. It is displayed in Allen Park, Mich.
This 80-foot "fake" tire used to be a Ferris wheel at a world's fair. It is displayed in Allen Park, Mich.

(The only tire that’s bigger than Hester’s isn’t really a tire – it’s a retired Ferris wheel from the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair made to look like a tire. That “Uniroyal Giant Tire” is 80 feet tall and is displayed off I-94 in Allen Park, Mich., between Detroit and the Metro Airport.)

Related Topics: OTR tires, Hester Tire Pros, Reynold Hester, Uniroyal Giant Tire

Lori L. Mavrigian Managing Editor
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