FARGO, N.D.—O.K. Tire Inc. was once America's largest chain of tire stores, with 1,200 locations at its peak. But after Ashland Oil Co. bought the O.K. brand in the mid-70s, the O.K. name disappeared as a national brand in the U.S. However, O.K. Tire Stores Inc. in Fargo, N.D., is one of a number of local and regional dealerships in the U.S. that have kept the name alive.
North of the border, the O.K. name has thrived through Canada's OK Tires Stores. With 193 locations, it is ranked sixth by Tire Business in terms of total retail outlets.
O.K. Fargo President Jim Ohnstead said his dealership was a member of the original O.K. chain, and he knows of several other dealers in neighboring states—South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota—who also use the O.K. banner.
In fact, Mr. Ohnstead said there was some confusion with South Dakota state sales tax officials when O.K. Fargo began selling to dealers there because a South Dakota dealership also used the O.K. name.
In addition to its five company-owned stores, Mr. Ohnstead said O.K. Fargo has about 50 ``good, strong dealers'' as regular wholesale customers.
His company provides them with quarterly advertising inserts, which local dealers can then customize with their own name and distribute through local newspapers.
Each of his five outlets has annual sales in the ``multi-millions,'' with about 10 percent in tires and 90 percent in service.
O.K. Fargo sells TBC Corp.'s Multi-Mile private brand, Dayton passenger and light truck tires, Bridgestone truck and off-the-road tires and Firestone agricultural tires.