Environmentaloly focused

Aug. 29, 2011

Pete Gerry, owner of Pete’s Tire Barns Inc. in Orange, Mass., saves more than three million gallons of fuel per year thanks to his company’s green initiatives. He also recycles 360,000 pounds of polyurethane and close to half a million pounds of rubber annually.

“It’s a direction we’re all going in order to survive, and it’s not as hard as it seems,” he says.

Being environmentally conscious also has improved his commercial dealership’s bottom line by millions of dollars a year. He earns $750,000 just by recycling batteries, building materials, metal (think wheel weights, brass valves and wheels), wood, rubber, polyurethane, plastic, cardboard, even ink and toner.

“We used to pay 15 cents a pound to have the polyurethane put in a landfill. Now we grind it into dust, mix it in with virgin material and resell it.”

All the recycling has helped reduce waste disposal from $1,500 to $193 a month.

Each of his 16 stores produces less than one cubic yard of waste a week (compared to four to six cubic yards a week previously).

Gerry recently installed 850 photovoltaic solar panels on his retread plant. The panels cost $1,000 each, but they will power the facility with 170.10 kilowatts per hour of clean energy.

His main warehouse also utilizes solar panels — and electric forklifts. Just by reducing the temperature in the distribution center in the winter from 60 degrees Fahrenheit to 50 degrees F, the company saves roughly 8,000 gallons of heating oil per year.

As you might expect, Gerry gives his fleet of 14 box trucks the green treatment as well.

All ride on Michelin XZA3 fuel-efficient steer tires. When it’s time to retread the drive and trailer tires, he uses Bandag Fuel Tech precure treads.

The vehicles are equipped with road speed governors to prevent the trucks from traveling at more than 65 mph. They also can’t idle for more than three minutes.

All fleet service truck bodies are aluminum so that they may be re-used. Gerry estimates the lighter weight saves 1,100 gallons of gas a year.

The lift gates are galvanized to reduce the need for replacement due to the material’s resistance to rust. This also eliminates the need for yearly painting, which reduces emissions.

“We have ongoing driver training programs on reducing fuel consumption, with savings upward of 30%. We are developing a program that will identify drivers who are able to attain fuel saving and sharing a percentage of those savings with the driver.”

And his customers have taken note of his efforts.

“Lots of our customers are interested in partnering with you if they can advertise that you are green.”

Gerry says he is not done yet. He hopes to decrease his fossil fuel usage to zero(!) and turn his more than 100 company vehicles into an electric fleet.

“It takes a lot of time and planning, but at the end of the year, all those little things add up.”

Embrace the environment and improve your bottom line – 32 money-saving tips from Pete’s Tire Barns

Pete’s Tire Barns Inc. may be the most environmentally friendly commercial tire dealership in the world. Recycling is almost an obsession with owner Pete Gerry, who has embraced all things green, from fuel-efficient tires to solar panels..

Here is a list of some of the initiatives he has undertaken.

For a full list, visit www.greenretreads.com.

 1. Our retread facility will save over one million gallons of oil this year. It takes approximately 29 gallons of oil to build a new tire and seven gallons to produce a retread.

2. Our retread facility will save approximately 160,000 gallons of oil this year by performing major repairs on truck tires and returning them to service.

3. We will recycle approximately 360,000 pounds a year of polyurethane to be used in our flat-proofing process, with a savings of approximately 18,000 gallons of oil per year.


4. With our earthmover and farm tire section repair facility, we will save approximately 65,500 gallons of oil that would be needed if we didn’t repair those tires.

5. Any time we undergo construction, we save the old building material. Any boards are recycled to a lumber yard, and bricks and cement are made into process gravel for pavement base.

6. All used brass valves, lead wheel weights and aluminum and steel rims are returned to our distribution center for recycling.

7. Small cardboard boxes are returned to the distribution center to be re-used for shipping tubes and flaps. The remainder is recycled at our local transfer station.

8. Used wooden pallets are returned to a pallet manufacturer to be repaired and put back into use.

9. All lighting in stores is being changed to the most energy-efficient available.

10. Signage lighting is turned off to save electricity.

11. Distribution center forklifts are powered by electricity to save on diesel and propane costs, a savings of about $3,750 per year. The use of electricity also improves air quality and noise-reduction in the building.

12. We have installed air deflectors on the fronts of our large delivery box trucks, which will save approximately 400 gallons of diesel a year per truck.

13. We are running synthetic oil on transmissions, rear ends and wheel bearings that will lower rolling resistance, reduce friction and allow for longer draining intervals.

14. We have set the on-board computers in the delivery box to shut down the engines after three minutes of idle time and to not exceed 65 mph. With each 2 mph that the speed limit is reduced, we gain one-half mile per gallon.

15. Scrap tires are collected, shredded and burned for fuel in a power plant, saving approximately 5,000 gallons of oil per day from being burned.

16. We are working on a program that would reduce oil changes to intervals of as much as 20,000 between changes.

17. We have three locations that are burning waste oil for heat, saving approximately 5,000 gallons of heating oil per year.

18. All lead batteries are returned to the manufacturer for recycling of their components.

19. As a result of reducing waste, we have replaced most of our dumpsters with smaller (two-yard) containers, with collection reduced to every other week.

20. We will be baling any plastic waste material from our retread facility and then selling it for recycling.

21. Rubber removed while retreading (approximately 40,000 pounds per month) is sold and recycled into rubber floor mats.

22. We have changed the tires on our delivery box trucks to low rolling-resistance green tires, saving 8% to 9% fuel per year.

23. We have installed photo cell sensors on all lighting at our distribution center so that the lights will only turn on when there is movement underneath, saving approximately $5,000 per month.

24. Special light-emitting materials were used around the perimeter of our new three-acre distribution center to allow for natural inside area lighting, thus reducing electrical usage.

25. We have reduced the temperature in the Distribution Center in the winter from 60 to 50 degrees, which will save roughly 8,000 gallons ($40,000) of heating oil per year. We run 50% non-toxic biodegradable antifreeze in the heating system, allowing us to run at this lower temperature.

26. In the winter months, we are utilizing heat from our air compressors to heat our retread facility and service area.

27. We have installed fans in the distribution center to bring in warm air at mid-day when the outside temperature is over 50 degrees in the spring (and) fall to save burning fuel for heat.

28. We are replacing all lead balancing weights with steel and zinc to help keep lead from getting into the drinking water supply and to minimize handling of lead by our employees.

29. We are recycling copy and FAX machine toners by having them refilled and returned to us at a savings of 50%. We also are returning ink cartridges to the manufacturers for a recycling credit.

32. We installed an energy-efficient, refrigerated air dryer with true-cycling, reducing electrical consumption by better than 50%.

About the Author

Bob Ulrich

Bob Ulrich was named Modern Tire Dealer editor in August 2000 and retired in January 2020. He joined the magazine in 1985 as assistant editor, and had been responsible for gathering statistical information for MTD's "Facts Issue" since 1993. He won numerous awards for editorial and feature writing, including five gold medals from the International Automotive Media Association. Bob earned a B.A. in English literature from Ohio Northern University and has a law degree from the University of Akron.