UPDATED: Tire dealer Vernon 'Bud' Zolman dies
Tire industry veteran Vernon "Bud" Zolman passed away unexpectedly June 14, 2015, in Naples, Fla.
Zolman, 73, was a life-long resident of Northern Indiana. Early in his career, from 1964 to 1966, he worked for Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. as a roaming store manager and credit manager. In his hometown of Warsaw, Ind., he helped Ray Monteith and Paul Zurcher start Monteith Tire. Then in 1978, Zolman and his wife Diane (Silvius) opened Bud Zolman's Tire in Mishawaka, Ind.
Zolman also was an original founding partner in the Best-One Tire & Service group. His son Nate Zolman, who now is president of Zolman's Tire & Auto Care, called his dad "the last of the Mohicans," since fellow original Best-One partners Zurcher, Monteith and Jim Wertenberger of Wertenberger Tire all preceded him in death.
Today, the renamed Zolman's Tire & Auto Care has grown to seven locations, with 10 departments and more than 100 employees.
Nate Zolman called his dad his best friend. "He was the best man in my wedding.
"I had many job opportunities out of college out of the industry for significantly more starting pay — triple, quadruple pay. My dad encouraged me to stay out of the family business, and his reverse psychology worked on me."
The two worked together daily from 1992 until about four years ago when Nate Zolman's mother became ill.
"I'm just blessed to get to work every day with my dad," Nate Zolman said. "I always joke that I'm the kind of guy that literally runs off the cliff and screams geronimo! And my dad is the guy that's holding my parachute saying 'you forgot your parachute!'"
Nate Zolman said their business style combined his gumption and his father's level headedness. In their time together, Zolman's Tire & Auto Care grew from one to seven locations, and from 15 to more than 100 employees.
Zolman emphasized hard work, integrity, and family values. He had a heart for others and was passionate about community service. He was honored to have served the South Bend and Mishawaka community for more than 50 years.
Zolman was preceded in death by his wife, the love of his life whom he met in elementary school while in the sixth grade.
Surviving loved ones are daughter Stefani Diane (Zolman) DeSchepper and son Nathan D. Zolman. Zolman also is survived by 10 grandchildren, of whom he was very proud.
Funeral information and Zolman's full obituary is available here.