Sullivan Tire and Goodyear Celebrate Anniversaries

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Sullivan Tire and Goodyear Celebrate Anniversaries

Paul Sullivan, vice president of marketing for Sullivan Tire Co., says there is no doubt what the key to the company’s 60 years of success has been. Or rather, who. It’s the “wonderful people,” past and present.

Sullivan’s father, Bob, started the business in 1955. In the early days, he had seven full-time employees.

Sixty years later, Bob’s eldest son, also named Bob, presides over close to 1,500 employees from the company’s base in Norwell, Mass. Sullivan Tire is the 12th largest independent tire dealership in the U.S., with 67 retail stores, 15 commercial outlets, three retread plants, 11 distribution centers and two warehouses.

“It’s a family business,” says Paul. “You live it 24/7 with your family.” And by family he means more than Sullivan family members. Paul says one of the goals of the company is to make sure employees get ahead professionally and personally.

“We believe in our people and our customers.”

Sullivan Tire held a number of promotional sales efforts tying into the anniversary this year. That included an internal “60 days of prizes” for all employees, with winners announced on an online portal every day. Paul says this also served the purpose of “getting them used to going online.” A cruise to Bermuda and a diamond pendant were just two of the prizes handed out.

Four of the 10 siblings are still active in the business: Bob, Paul, Billy and Joey.

Five third-generation Sullivans are waiting in the wings. So are two sons of John Donovan, vice president of sales, who has been with the company as long as Paul has: 46 years.

College football

The same year the late Bob Sullivan started Sullivan Tire, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. began its aerial coverage of college football with the Goodyear Blimp. In that first game, the 1955 Rose Bowl, the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes defeated USC 20-7.

In the years since, Goodyear’s airship has covered some of the biggest match ups in college football history. That includes the Oct. 29, 1983, game between host Boston College and Penn State in Foxboro, Mass.

Sullivan Tire, which was a supporter of Boston College, rented an executive suite and invited Goodyear executives to the game. The Eagles “weren’t that good in the ‘70s,” says Paul Sullivan, “and then in 1981 along came Doug Flutie. All of a sudden, people began to take notice.”

The mighty Penn State Nittany Lions were expected to win, “and low and behold, BC won 27-17!”

Getting together for the Boston College-Penn State game was just a continuation of the relationship building that has kept Sullivan Tire and Goodyear partners for 43 years. “We fly the Goodyear flag proudly throughout New England,” adds Paul.

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