Efforts to reorganize the former O.K. Tire Dealers group in the U.S. got under way in Dallas in September with a meeting of interested participants set up by industry marketing consultant John Wagner, who hopes to become president of group. Mr. Wagner's attempt at building a U.S. organization of O.K. dealerships is supported by the 124-outlet Canadian O.K. Tire Stores Inc. group, which hopes the groups' combined purchasing volume will justify production of O.K.-brand passenger and light truck tires.
While the Sept. 8 meeting in Dallas was attended by fewer than 30 dealers, Mr. Wagner said his mailing list includes the names of 420 U.S. dealerships that presently are using the O.K. name or have indicated an interest in joining an O.K. dealer group.
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 1,000 in the U.S. and Canada.
However, the O.K. franchise organization began to break up in 1962, when a number of its members departed to found what today is Big O Tires Inc.
Kentucky-based Ashland Oil Co. purchased the O.K. organization from its founder, Harold James, in 1969 and operated it as the O.K. Tires division until 1977, when it exited the tire market.
Only in Canada-where former franchisees joined in 1973, forming the present-day member-owned cooperative-do O.K. dealers exist as an organized group.
Ashland, which reportedly was purchasing $67 million worth of O.K. brand tires 17 years ago when it folded the operation, allowed the rights to the O.K. tradename to expire, according to Mr. Wagner. He currently is negotiating with potential manufacturers to reintroduce the brand.