Some 70 independent tire dealerships in Minnesota became defendants in third-party lawsuits in 1993 after the take-off tires they generated over the years wound up in landfills being cleaned up under the federal Superfund Law. According to the law's provisions, polluters being billed for the cleanup by the Environmental Protection Agency may seek to spread around such costs by suing other companies that also contributed waste to the site.
Most dealerships involved settled out of court rather than face more-costly trial proceedings.
Three large Florida dealerships paid a total of $1.22 million to the state for tax overcharges after failing to list their own tire disposal costs separately from the state's $1-per-tire tax assessment on invoices.
West Palm Beach-based Tire Kingdom was ordered to pay the most-$1 million. Discount Tire Co. Inc. of Scottsdale, Ariz., agreed to pay $19,000 and Clearwater, Fla.-based Don Olson Tire & Auto Inc. paid $200,000.
Attendance failed to live up to expectations at the first-and possibly the last-International Commercial Tire & Service Expo, which was held in Nashville, Tenn., during June.
Show organizer John Wagner hoped to attract as many as 3,200 independent commercial tire dealers and government and private fleet managers. Instead, only about 1,000 turned out for the Expo's seminars and trade show.
Later, Mr. Wagner said he may try to organize future Expos on a more regional basis.
Firestone tires will return to the Indianapolis 500 race in 1995-after a 20-year hiatus, Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. announced.
In declaring its intention to return to the ``brickyard'' next year, BFS tried unsuccessfully to persuade race officials to sanction the use of 17-inch tires, which it regards as superior to the traditional 15-inch size used at Indy.
Race officials, however, refused to sanction 17-inch tires, saying they didn't want to make obsolete the thousands of existing 15-inch racing rims now in use.
Elsewhere, Bridgestone/Firestone sought to improve relations with independents and enhance its tire franchises by limiting the sale of ``core products'' to its ``family'' distribution channel-namely, independent Bridgestone and Firestone dealerships and company-owned stores.
Refusing to sell its core passenger and light truck tire products to mass merchandisers and discounters cost BFS ``tens of millions of dollars'' in potential sales, BFS officials told dealers at a special meeting in September.
In the case of truck tires, BFS in 1993 separated the marketing of its Firestone and Bridgestone brands and promised to limit national account sales efforts to the Bridgestone brand while focusing marketing of the Firestone brand primarily on independent tire dealerships.
Bridgestone radial truck casings were voted most retreadable for the second year in a row in a survey conducted by Tire Retreading/Repair Journal.
Sears, Roebuck and Co., the nation's third-largest retailer, ceased publication of its general merchandise catalog and closed some 113 unprofitable stores-eliminating 50,000 full and part-time jobs.
As a part of this retrenchment, Sears also shut down 12 free-standing auto service centers in eight states and narrowed its service activities to concentrate on tire and battery sales and undercar work.
The demise of the 107-year-old Sears' catalog was a blow to Lakin General Corp. (now Achievor Tire L.P.), which derived nearly half the sales of its Achievor passenger retreads from the retailer's ``Big Book.''
Lakin, whose Chicago retread plant was built to supply Sears, said it would step up sales efforts elsewhere, such as with Big O Tires Inc., the nation's largest tire franchiser, to help offset the anticipated decline.
Costly and well-organized burglaries afflicted as many as 40 south Florida dealerships during the early months of 1993. Often, thieves made off with as much as $50,000 worth of premium tires in a single haul.
Sheriff's deputies and the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association appealed to dealers nationwide for help in cracking the theft ring.
Such help arrived in May, when loss-prevention investigators from West Palm Beach-based Tire Kingdom Inc., following the burglary of one of its stores, led sheriff's deputies to a pair of suspects whose van they identified by tire prints left at the crime scene.
Investigators believe the night-time break-ins were the work of a theft ring that sent the stolen tires out of the country.
Both sides claimed victory in a lawsuit filed by Goodyear against Butler Brothers Retreading Inc., a small Marietta, Ga., firm accused by the tire manufacturer of violating its trademark by not removing Goodyear's brand name from the sidewall of speed-rated passenger tires prior to retreading them.
The court ruled that Butler did not have to remove the Goodyear name from the sidewall, but did have to add its own and could not label or promote the tires as speed-rated unless it had them independently tested and certified.
Goodyear declared that the court's decision affirmed the claim that Butler Brothers had violated its trademark rights.
Butler Brothers, meanwhile, likewise claimed victory, inasmuch as the judge did not award Goodyear any damages, and is awaiting his ruling on exactly how the retreads must be labeled.
The United Nations trade embargo against Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) in the wake of so-called ``ethnic cleansing'' in that area of Eastern Europe resulted in the closing of Tigar Americas Corp., a Jacksonville, Fla., tire distributorship, owned by Tigar Rubber Works of Pirot, Serbia.
Federal authorities padlocked the company's offices in May, forcing employees of Tigar Americas to look elsewhere for merchandise.
Since then, the Tigar group has kept the business alive using Vikrant brand medium truck tires produced in the Vikrant factory in Mysore, India.
Italy's Pirelli S.p.A., during the year, agreed to sell nearly all of its holdings in Continental A.G. to a group of German institutional and industrial investors, thereby closing the books on Pirelli's earlier efforts to force a merger between the two European tire makers.
Pirelli's 33.3-percent holdings in Continental sold for considerably less than the Milan-based company paid in 1990 during its attempted takeover of Germany's largest tire maker.
Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.'s stock plunged 23.6 percent on the New York Stock Exchange in June after the company announced its second quarter earnings would be down from the exceptional year-earlier period.
Cooper's announcement came after its largest customer, Memphis, Tenn.-based TBC Corp., reported it expected lower second-quarter results. TBC stock dropped 24.6 percent in price as a result of the announcement. Neither Cooper shares nor those of TBC had fully recovered their previous momentum by year's end.
Perhaps the year's most unusual news story was that of a vacationing Lake Ariel, Pa., couple who unknowingly touched off a major forest fire in Idaho during July, after a flat tire on the car they were towing behind their recreation vehicle ignited.
Unaware of why passing vehicles kept blowing their horns and trying to attract their attention, the couple kept on driving, setting fire to roadside brush as they went. The resulting fire burned more than 6,000 acres, requiring 700 firefighters and costing more than $1 million to extinguish.
The state filed suit to recover its firefighting costs; the couple's insurance company eventually agreed to pay about $300,000 to settle the claim.