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SEMA Show pre-show: TIA inducts Hall of Famers

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SEMA Show, pre-show: TIA inducts Hall of Famers

The Tire Industry Association (TIA) inducted Harold Coker, Charles Cornell and Juanita Purcell to the TIA Hall of Fame at TIA’s Tire Industry Honors event on Nov. 3, 2014, one day prior to the Global Tire Expo - Powered by TIA at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas.

Harold Coker, founder of Coker Tire Co., graduated from Tennessee Tech in 1951 with a degree in chemistry. He began his career in the tire industry with B.F. Goodrich and then started Coker Tire Co. in 1958 in Athens, Tenn., and moved to Chattanooga in 1961. The company is now the largest supplier for collector car tires in the world. Harold retired from active participation in Coker Tire in 2004 but serves as chairman of the board emeritus.

In 1985, he served as president of the National Tire Dealers and Retreaders Association (NTDRA) where he spearheaded the effort to get NTDRA into the government affairs arena and lobbied for bills like voluntary tire registration. He was instrumental in starting and raising money for the association’s political action committee (PAC) and spoke about the importance of government affairs to state associations nationwide. Harold was chairman of the committee to establish Money Express, a credit card exclusively for tire dealers nationwide. He also ran for Congress in 1988.

 The late Charles Cornell founded Tech International. He was working in the rubber industry when he recognized the need for better tire and tube repairs. In 1939, he began his own business in Johnstown, Ohio: Technical Rubber Company. Cornell developed a self-vulcanizing process that repaired tire and tubes in hot or cold applications, revolutionizing the tire repair industry. Cornell’s innovation led to a complete line of tire and tube repair products and set the stage for product breakthroughs at Tech International that included self-vulcanizing inserts, centering radial repairs and Uni-Seal repair units.

The vision Cornell had not only launched a business, but created a legacy of generations to come. Now, 75 years after Cornell began creating tire repairs, Tech International is directed by the fourth-generation of family leaders. Still headquartered in Johnstown, Ohio, Tech has grown to become an international manufacturer and distributor of more than 10,000 tire repair, wheel service and industrial rubber products with 14 international offices and customers in 95 countries. Lauded for its export efforts, Tech International is one of only two companies to have been twice awarded the President’s “E-Star” Award for outstanding export success. He passed away in 1952. Cheryl Poulton, chairman of the board of Tech International, accepted the award on behalf of her grandfather.

Juanita Purcell serves as executive vice president of Purcell Tire. Purcell Tire was founded by Juanita’s father-in-law Robert M. Purcell in 1935. In 1964, he invited his son Bob and his wife, Juanita, to help him run the three locations of Purcell Tire. In 1970, after the death of Robert Purcell, Sr., Bob and Juanita took over the whole company, which consisted of a retread plant in DeSoto, Mo.. and three stores.

Today, the company has three corporate office locations, four retread plants, two wholesale centers, 21 commercial centers, 25 retail and nine mine locations. While Bob spent much of his time on the road, Juanita ran the operations of the company from the headquarters in Potosi. To this day, Juanita continues to lead the operations. She is a mentor and leader to the female workforce in the tire industry. In 2004, Juanita and Bob were named Tire Dealer of the Year by Modern Tire Dealer.

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