Legendary editor enters Hall of Fame: MTD's Jerry Shaw was key industry figure for 30-plus years
The tire industry honored one of Modern Tire Dealer's own this month as Jerome "Jerry" Shaw, longtime editor of Tires, MTD's predecessor, was inducted into the Tire Industry Hall of Fame.
Shaw was inducted under the Hall of Fame's "Historical Contributors" section, as was MTD contributor and tire engineering icon Jacques Bajer.)
A native of New York City, Shaw was already a veteran journalist when he joined Tires in 1919. "At the time, there was no publication concerned with the problems of retail tire dealers," wrote Edward Lyman Bill, president of Tires' owner, Bill Brothers Publications, in 1954.
Shaw was a prime mover in the tire industry during his 35 years at the helm of Tires, which changed its name to Tires -- Service Station in 1942 and then Tires -- TBA Merchandising 11 years later.
He was a key figure in the establishment of the National Tire Dealers Association, forebear of the Tire Industry Association, in 1921.
The group's purpose was "to advance and safeguard the business interests of tire dealers and to promote a cooperative relationship between the manufacturer, the tire dealer and the buying public."
After its formation, the association asked Tires to be its official mouth-piece. But Shaw realized that the magazine would have to stay at arm's length in order to maintain its unquestioned credibility.
“It is indeed flattering to have a national association desire to adopt us as its official mouth-piece," he wrote in early 1921. "However, as The Trade Paper of the Tire Industry, Tires can render both the association and the tire industry at large a greater service through being unbiased in its views.
"We believe that the national association, under the direction of men such as are now at its head, will function 100% for the benefit of the industry at large. But if the occasion arises when constructive criticism is needed, Tires wants to be in a position where it can criticize."
Shaw spent his career ceaselessly defending and promoting the independent tire dealer. In January 1935, he wrote that tire dealers were "the backbone of the industry," and he never missed an opportunity to remind them of that.
His dedication to Tires' readers and his desire to see them succeed earned him the respect, admiration and loyalty of tire dealers throughout the country.
A letter from Rube Hedlund, general manager of Tire Dealers Inc. in Chicago, Ill., that appeared in the June 1954 issue of Tires -- TBA Merchandising, several weeks after Shaw passed away, summed up the professional and personal sentiments that many felt toward him.
"Jerry's tenure of office went back to the solid tire days, and when the number of tire manufacturers ran in excess of 200. At that time, one didn't think in terms of mass distributors, private brands or company-owned stores.
"Jerry knew some of these marketing changes were inevitable, but deep in his heart he was a champion of the independent tire dealer as a logical tire, tube and battery outlet in every community.
"I, for one, will miss the 'little guy' when tire dealers again meet for their annual convention," Hedlund continued. "How he ever found the time to say hello to all the exhibitors, pay his respects at the hospitality suites, personally greet hundreds of tire dealers, and still have plenty of bounce left for the closing dinner dance, I'll never know.
"There is one thing that I do know, and that is that he handled himself at all times in a fine, gentlemanly way."
In the same issue, Edward Lyman Bill offered these words: "Jerry, aside from the serious aspects of his fine career, was thoroughly human. He smoked big cigars and always had a good story to tell.
"He lived a good life because above all, he was a family man, a man who stuck by his friends and a believer in God."
Jerry, we salute you!