Unpretentious Jeff Clay & Sons Inc. marks 50 years in business like it will its 51st

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When the new year rings in, the employees at Jeff Clay & Sons Inc. will do the same things they did when their anniversary year of 2007 started.

They will forge ahead, servicing their customers in Kissimmee, Fla., and the surrounding areas. There will be no celebration.

The 50-year-old, single-location dealership sells tires at both the retail and wholesale level. It remains a family affair, and has been from the very start.

Jeff Clay Sr. began selling used tires and tubes out of the back of a pickup truck in 1957. Four years later, he was joined by his brother, Jim Clay. The two opened a retread shop while selling new tires.

In the 1970s, Jeff's sons Johnny, Jeffrey and Robert joined the business, and Jim left it. The company exited retreading in 1974. In 1982, daughter Sherry Clay-Marcoe re-joined the company.

Marcoe, along with Pam Gatto of Gatto's Tires & Auto Service in Melbourne, Fla., were pioneering women in the tire industry. They served as board members of the former National Tire Dealers and Retreaders Association, now known as the Tire Industry Association.

The brothers bought out their sister in 2001, and today, Jeffrey and Robert run the business, which sells Michelin, Uniroyal, BFGoodrich and Goodyear brand tires, among others.

Will the family business continue on with the next generation of Clays? You never know. Johnny's daughter, Ginny, works in the business. Marcoe's oldest son, Jay, is regional marketing and sales manager for one of Jeff Clay & Sons' suppliers, Carroll Tire Co. Jeff Jr.'s son, Austin Jeffrey Clay, is seven years old.

In the meantime, Jeffrey and company continue to do what they do best, without fanfare. "My brothers aren't into nostalgia," says Marcoe.

And in case they need help, 81-year-old founder Jeff Clay still stops by the office on occasion.

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