LAS VEGAS—"We all stand on the shoulders of those who've gone before us. We all stand on the shoulders of those who work for us.|.|.|. You honor me, and you honor the company." Those remarks by Ann Gaither, former Chairman and CEO of Heafner Tire Group Inc., echoed the sentiments of her two fellow inductees into the Tire Association of North America's Tire Industry Hall of Fame, Nov. 2 at Harrah's Hotel in Las Vegas.
In addition to Ms. Gaither, the association honored Paul Zurcher, president of Zurcher Tire, and Francis Zrostlik, CEO of Stellar Industries Inc.
David Poisson, TANA's executive vice president, noted after the ceremony that induction into the Hall of Fame was the most prestigious honor the association could give to one of its members and was enhanced by the stature of this year's class.
Mrs. Gaither thanked her peers who nominated her for the Hall of Fame and the committee members for choosing her. She recalled how, as a woman entrepreneur in the earlier years of the tire industry, it took five years for the former National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association to give her a badge that said dealer instead of spouse.
Mrs. Gaither also paid tribute to her late father and mentor, James Harlan Heafner, a previous Hall of Fame inductee, and to Heafner employees.
Francis Zrostlik, who also founded Iowa Mold Tooling, thanked his friends, family and TANA for their support over the years.
Mr. Zurcher, who borrowed $300 in 1947 to open a one-bay tire store in Monroe, Ind., noted that personal and business relationships were the key to his success. Mr. Zurcher now presides over a 170-dealer network in seven states.
Looking back at his childhood, Mr. Zurcher said every experience in life holds a lesson to be learned. He then told how he and his brother gleaned corn fields to make enough money to buy toys for Christmas and that he had wanted to use his leftover earnings to buy candy for himself. However, his mother insisted that he give that money to the church.
"Mom said, `You're going to drop 12 cents in the collection plate on Sunday,'|" Mr. Zurcher said. "She said, `You can't outgive the Lord.'"
Acknowledging that "no one ever achieves anything great without the help of someone else," he went on to say that his one goal is to make a difference in the lives of people. He also paid tribute to TANA and those who have mentored him.
"I love you. You are the most wonderful people. God bless you."