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April 11, 2014

NETSA names three to hall of fame

Ben Kravitz, Glenn Wilder Sr. and the late Max Katz are the newest members of the New England Tire and Service Association (NETSA) Hall of Fame.

Kravitz is a founding partner of Summit Tire of Massachusetts. He got his start in the industry when he and a business partner opened a gas station in Norwood, Mass., in 1971. During the early years Kravitz pumped gas during the day and attended college classes at night to earn a master’s degree in business administration.

A third partner joined them as the gas station business expanded to include three gas stations, nine tire stores and three tire distribution centers called Summit Tire.

Kravitz has participated on many industry boards inclulding NETSA, American Car Care Centers (ACCC) and several manufacturers’ dealer boards. He is a past president of NETSA and a past chairman of ACCC.

Wilder joined the his family’s garage and tire business in 1962 after serving in the military during the Korean War, graduating from college and working for a defense company. Wilder Brothers Tire was started in 1907 as the Bates/Wilder Co. Bound Brook Garage.

Wilder joined his two brothers in the business and focused on tires. He joined the New England Association of Independent Tire Dealers in the 1960s and in the1970s served on its board and was president from 1973-1975.

Wilder showed incredible fortitude when the business burned to the ground in 1990, according to NETSA. He remortgaged his house at 56 years old to rebuild the family business.

Katz emigrated from Lithuania to New England in 1904. He got his start in the industry after high school when he began working at a tire company while taking evening college classes. He earned a business administration degree and in 1922 founded Merchants Distributors (later named Merchants Tire Co.).

Over the years Merchants grew from a single location to become one of the largest regional tire companies of its day. Katz introduced many firsts in the tire industry, according to NETSA. These include the “K-Service Stores,” a buying group that was a precursor to today’s franchise concept in the 1930s.

Merchants business grew to include wholesale, retail, commercial and retread operations from Rhode Island to Maine with more than 300 employees. Katz was a founding member of the New England Tire Dealers Association and an early supporter of the national association now known as the Tire Industry Association. He was inducted into the Tire Industry Hall of Fame in 1987.

For more information, visit the NETSA website.

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