OKLAHOMA CITY-A to Z Tire & Battery Inc. had two reasons for celebration at its annual managers meeting, held recently in Oklahoma City. The event marked the 70th anniversary of the Amarillo, Texas-based tire dealership and CEO Leonard Nussbaum's 50th year in the family-owned business.
Mr. Nussbaum and his wife, Elizabeth, received a plaque commemorating the occasion.
A to Z Tire, which now has 27 stores in the Southwest and $50 million in annual sales, traces its origins to 1926, when brothers Martin and George Nussbaum relocated from Wichita, Kan., to purchase and operate the Amarillo Bus Co., the city's transit system.
Soon the company was providing tire and mechanical service to other fleets as well as its own.
After the close of World War II, when the federal government began subsidizing city-owned bus companies at the expense of privately owned systems, the Nussbaums renamed their business A to Z Automotive Service.
Leonard Nussbaum, Martin's son, grew up in the family business, but didn't officially come aboard until his 1946 return from military service in World War II.
He purchased his first truckload of B.F. Goodrich tires in 1948, opening additional stores in the 1950s and '60s.
Martin and George Nussbaum got out of the business in the late 1960s and Leonard bought out his brother, Arnold, and cousin, Walter, George's son, in 1972.
In 1965, he founded Jetstream Tire, which later became Transtate Tire, one of the largest passenger tire retreading operations in the U.S. at that time.
Transtate Tire, with plants in LaPorte, Ind., Dallas and Los Angeles, furnished passenger retreads to Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Western Auto Supply Co. The operation later was sold, after consumer demand for passenger retreads dwindled.
Mr. Nussbaum was a founder and longtime member of Summit Tire Corp., as well as National Tire Corp., which became Del-Nat Corp. in 1989. He served as president and then CEO of Del-Nat until 1995.
Today, Mr. Nussbaum's son, Philip, serves as president of A to Z Tire. Another son, Greg, is employed by the company in Dallas.
Eldest son Mike operates his own firm, Nussbaum Distribution Co., a wholesale tire distributorship in Memphis, Tenn.