Two Commercial Tire Leaders Join the TIA Hall of Fame

Oct. 25, 2018

Two men who made significant contributions to the commercial tire industry were recognized for their work by the Tire Industry Association (TIA) during its 2018 Tire Industry Honors Awards Ceremony at the 2018 Global Tire Expo going on now in Las Vegas.

At the event, hosted by TIA, Bob Majewski, president of Sumerel Tire Service Inc., and Arvind Poddar, chairman and managing director of Balkrishna Industries Ltd. (BKT), were inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Majewski has been in the retread business for more than 50 years. He started in the retread plant at an independent, family-owned business, graduated from the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics, and then made a name for himself nationally with Mohawk Rubber, Hercules Tire & Rubber Co. and the American Retreaders Association (ARA).

His efforts to establish retread training during his tenure at ARA set the stage for the next revolution in retreading. Without his contributions to the ARA, countless independent retreaders would have had a competitive disadvantage when going up against the major rubber companies. He played a major role in preserving the independence of the independent retreader. In late 1994, Majewski became part owner and vice president of Sumerel Tire Service Inc. in Newport, Ky., taking responsibility for manufacturing, operations, and marketing for their mold cure remanufactured tires called the Acutread Segmented Mold Cure Process, which he designed. In 2002, he became president of the company, a position he held for 13 years. He's formed a steering committee that runs Sumerel Tire, planning the next transition. His continued involvement on industry committees and organizations ensures that his wealth of knowledge and experience contributes to the overall image and success of retreading.

Poddar began his career at BKT in early 2000 and immediately sought to take the company forward and make it profitable. He saw that a complete change in the company’s model must happen. He decided to enter the off-the-road tire market with a vision to make BKT a global player.

With more than 93% of production being exported to sophisticated markets in 130+ countries, BKT experienced remarkable growth in terms of revenue and profits and became the star company for the investors and shareholders. After the shortage of the large OTR tires in 2011, Poddar ventured into expanding production into large OTR tires which required sizable investment of more than $500 million, which was equal to the total net worth of the company. With that, came the most sophisticated Bhuj plant with installed capacity of all three BKT plants combined.

BKT filled the needs of the market and sustained the OTR consumers with a quality product of value in terms of cost/hour or cost/mile. The BKT product became the quality product of choice and became the best sales rep for the company. BKT now enjoys 6% share of the world OTR market and with a turnover close to $1 billion. Under Poddar's leadership, demand for BKT tires has kept pace with the production increase.During the awards event, TIA also will present the Ed Wagner Leadership Award to Mike Baggett, who retired from Yokohama Tire Corp., and Freda Pratt-Boyer, senior auditor of Purcell Tire Co.

Baggett began his career in the tire industry 46 years ago serving all facets of the OTR tire business. He has owned an OTR dealership and worked for three major tire manufacturers. He was instrumental in the introduction of the giant radial tire to the mining industry, and worked on the development of the industry's first OTR tracking systems. Baggett retired from Yokohama in April 2017.

Pratt-Boyer began her career in the industry more than 45 years ago with Purcell Tire & Rubber Co. She has worked in and managed retail, commercial, retreading and wholesale distribution centers. She has served as operations manager, region manager and now is senior auditor for Purcell. Pratt-Boyer is a former member of the TIA board of directors, was the second woman to serve as board president, and is a promoter of education, training and customer service to all levels of the tire industry.

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