DURAND, Wis.-Gilbert F. ``Sam'' Bauer, 75, co-founder of Bauer Built Inc., died Oct. 20 after suffering a heart attack in his Durand home. Mr. Bauer and his brother, Ray Bauer, founded an oil distribution company in 1944 that would later grow into a multimillion-dollar tire dealership and retread operation with locations in four states and total sales of more than $97 million.
Mr. Bauer guided the company through its early years signing a retail franchise agreement with Firestone in 1945 and starting a retread operation in 1953, according to Jerry Bauer, Bauer Built president and one of Sam Bauer's sons.
Jerry Bauer talked to TIRE BUSINESS about his father earlier this year during an interview concerning the company's 50th anniversary.
In 1960, Bauer Built became one of the first independent tire dealerships to become a Bandag Inc. franchise, Jerry Bauer said. Three years later, Sam Bauer acquired full ownership of the business from his brother. In 1976 he sold the major portion of his interest to his sons, Jerry and James Bauer, and sons-in-law, John ``Butch'' Brantner, Dan Fedie and Larry Weber. He continued to serve as chairman, officially retiring in 1980, though he continued to act in a consulting role.
Mr. Bauer served on the Firestone National Dealer Advisory Council for 10 years and belonged to the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders, American Retreaders', Wisconsin Tire Dealers & Retreaders, and the North Central Tire Dealers & Suppliers associations.
Mr. Bauer's survivors include his wife, Ethel; sons, Jerry and James; and daughters, Marla Jo Fedie, Mary Jane Brantner, Marcia Weber, Myrna Gapinski, Julie Hoffman and Jan Spindler.