WASHINGTON-``It's surprising just how many of the people here are customers of mine, or know people who are,'' said Joseph D. ``Corky'' Coker, president of Coker Tire Co., at the Small Business Administration celebrations for Small Business Week, June 2-8. Mr. Coker, a tire dealer and manufacturer of reproduction antique tires in Chattanooga, Tenn., was chosen Tennessee's Small Business Person of the Year for 1996.
He was one of 52 small-business persons-representing all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia-invited to attend the Small Business Week events in Washington.
Coker Tire's display in the exhibit hall at the Capital Hilton Hotel attracted substantial interest. ``I hope I get to meet Corky Coker,'' another state winner was overheard saying. ``I need tires for my '51 Ford!''
All 52 state and territory winners were in the running for 1996 U.S. Small Business Person of the Year. Phyllis A. Hannan, president of Laser Light Technologies Inc., Hermann, Mo., was named national winner in a ceremony at the White House June 3.
Mr. Coker said the greatest fun of the week was to meet all the other state winners and network with them. ``It's an honor to represent my great state and the tire industry,'' he said.