Del-Nat's Gardner prepares for retirement

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Bob Gardner, recently retired president of Del-Nat Tire Corp., is helping new President Dan Hunter during the transition.

Hunter took over as president Oct. 1. But Gardner will stay on through the rest of the year.

Gardner, who has been with the company since Delta Tire Corp. and National Tire Corp. merged to form Del-Nat on Jan. 1, 1989, says he told Del-Nat's board of directors about his plans about a year and a half ago.

He leaves the company in its best shape ever. Del-Nat is expected to have record sales and profit totals in 2001.

Gardner worked with the Delta and National accounts while with the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. from 1976 to 1980. In 1980 he joined National.

Hunter, a former top executive at Yokohama Tire Corp., also has strong ties to Del-Nat's past. He has worked with Gardner since 1984 from the tire manufacturer's side of the fence, first with Uniroyal Tire Co. and Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Co., then with Yokohama.

Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., Yokohama Tire, Cheng Shin Rubber Industry Co. Ltd., China Manufacturers Alliance LLC, Alpha Tire Co. and Denman Tire Corp. are Del-Nat's principal tire suppliers. "Nobody has more than 25% of our business," says Gardner.

Gardner helped smoothly steer the company forward when Michelin North America Inc. announced it was dropping Del-Nat as a private brand customer in 1998. At the time, Michelin products accounted for 75% of the company's tire offerings.

The goal-oriented Gardner says he has no definite plans, although he's "not going to be selling tires." If Del-Nat needs him for special projects, however, he will be glad to help out, he adds.

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