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A to Z Tire and Battery's Leonard Nussbaum dies at 81

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Leonard John Nussbaum, the founder and past president of A to Z Tire and Battery Inc., died on March 2, 2007, in Amarillo, Texas. He was 81.

After returning from Navy duty in the South Pacific in 1946, Nussbaum joined the Amarillo Bus Co., owned and operated by his family. In 1954, the family purchased the empty Greyhound maintenance building in Amarillo to become the headquarters for their growing regional fleet service business. The service business grew to include, and focus on, tire and battery sales and service.

That was Nussbaum's focus, too. He opened A to Z Tire and Battery in Amarillo on Sept. 1, 1955, the beginning of his 50-plus years as an independent tire dealer, but not the end of his business activities within the industry.

* In 1965, Nussbaum opened Jetstream, later Transtate, a retreading operation in Dallas, Texas, and LaPorte, Ind., which, by 1968, handled all the retreading for Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Western Auto Supply Co. in the central United States.

* In 1971, Gates Rubber Co. left the tire industry, selling its National tire brand name to a private buying group, National Tire Corp., which elected Nussbaum its first president. He led National Tire, now Del-Nat Tire Corp. until 1994.

* In 1975, Nussbaum formed Summit Tire & Battery Inc., another nationwide buying group. In 1978, in partnership with John Schmitt of Denver, Colo., he formed Panther Tire Co. and opened stores in Colorado and Wyoming.

Today, A to Z Tire's 200 employees service retail, commercial and wholesale customers from 21 locations in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Montana. They offer Toyo, National, Cooper, Ohtsu, Marangoni, Kumho, Yokohama, Cheng Shin, Maxxis, Firestone, Bridgestone, Hankook, Carlisle, General and Continental brand tires, among others.

A to Z Tire's president is Philip Nussbaum, Leonard Nussbaum's sixth son. Other family members active in the business are Kristy, Philip's wife, and Philip and Kristy's children, Will and Beth Ann Nussbaum.

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