LOUISVILLE, Ky.-A meeting of dealers and others interested in revitalizing the former O.K. Tire group in the U.S. is scheduled for Sept. 7 in Dallas. Louisville marketing consultant John Wagner, who is spearheading efforts to reorganize what once was North America's largest independent chain of tire retailers, said he is scheduling the Dallas gathering to precede the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association convention and trade show there, Sept. 8-11.
Mr. Wagner, who has the support of the Canadian O.K. Tire Stores Inc. group in his effort to reorganize O.K. dealers in the U.S., said he is encouraged by the dealer response he's received since proposing such a meeting during an interview published by TIRE BUSINESS April 18.
Since the article was published, Mr. Wagner said he's been contacted by more than 20 dealers, representing more than 80 outlets, who expressed interest in attending the meeting.
In addition, he said, Dunn & Bradstreet has provided names and addresses of 278 U.S. dealerships using the words ``O.K. Tire'' in their trade names.
At one time, O.K. Tire outlets, whose origins date back to the 1930s when the group was composed of O.K. Rubber Welders franchisees, numbered more than a thousand throughout the U.S. and Canada.
However, the O.K. franchise organization began to break up in 1962, when a number of its largest dealer members departed to start what today is Big O Tires Inc.
Ashland Oil Co. purchased the O.K. organization in 1969 from its founder, Harold James, and operated it until 1977, when it closed the O.K. Tires division and exited the tire market.
Only in Canada-where former franchisees banded together in 1973 to form a member-owned cooperative known as O.K. Tire Stores Inc.-do O.K. Tire dealers exist as an organized group.
But even with its 124 stores, the Canadian group still isn't large enough to justify the production of an O.K. tire brand, according to President and General Manager Don Blythe.
Reviving the O.K. brand, he said, is one reason the Canadian group has pledged financial and other support to the reorganization effort in the U.S.
Mr. Blythe said he and other representatives of the Canadian O.K. Tire group will be at the Dallas meeting and pledged to ``do whatever we can'' to help in the reorganization effort.
According to Jack Picton, the last vice president of sales for Ashland Oil's private brand division, the division was purchasing $67 million worth of O.K.-brand tires annually when it closed in 1977.