MEMPHIS, Tenn.-As Bob Gardner's replacement at Del-Nat Tire Corp., Dan Hunter has some large shoes to fill when he becomes the co-operative's president Jan. 1.
After all, how can anyone replace the man who founded Del-Nat and built it into a $200 million+ cooperative with 75 members?
The task was certainly daunting enough for one of Del-Nat's board members to advise Mr. Hunter when he accepted the job not to try to fill those shoes, but to bring his own.
``I can't look at the achievements of Bob and say that I've got to better these achievements,'' Mr. Hunter said. ``I think you come into a company like this, and you look at the future more than anything.''
Mr. Hunter, who joined Del-Nat Oct. 1 and will fully assume responsibilities as president Jan. 1, formerly served as vice president of sales for commercial and consumer products at Yokohama Tire Corp., a supplier to Del-Nat. He has been familiar with Del-Nat's business not only as a Yokohama executive, but also when it was two companies-Delta Tire Corp. and National Tire Corp.-during the 1980s. At that time, he served as vice president of private and associate brands for Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Co.
After working for Uniroyal Goodrich from 1980-1990, Mr. Hunter became vice president of private and associate brands for Michelin Americas Small Tires, which was formed after Michelin North America Inc. acquired Uniroyal Goodrich. He served in that position until 1992, went into business for himself, then joined Yokohama in 1995. There, he served as vice president of marketing and later vice president and general manager of the consumer products division before being promoted to vice president of consumer and commercial products last year.
Mr. Hunter acknowledged that he wasn't looking to take over as Del-Nat's president. ``I didn't even know the job was available,'' he said, referring to Mr. Gardner's plans to retire, which the Del-Nat board knew of a year and a half ago. The board had formed a search committee and nominated Mr. Hunter as a candidate.
Crediting Mr. Gardner for building Del-Nat into a strong company with an excellent product line, Mr. Hunter said the stockholder support for the company is a tremendous benefit.
``I don't think that you don't really come into a company like this company looking at all the changes you need to make,'' Mr. Hunter said. ``It's almost like coming into this company and saying what's here that I can polish?''
Though he's not ready to discuss Del-Nat's future yet, Mr. Hunter told Tire Business that he believes there is room for Del-Nat to grow and that he and the board will examine various areas for expansion. But he maintained that Del-Nat always will remain a private brander.
``That's our core business. We'll always be true to our core business.''