BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. (July 12, 2004) — Henry M. Johnson, the “tire king” of Virginia in the 1970s and '80s and founder of two different tire store chains in his lifetime, died June 17 at age 86.
A native of Benson, N.C., Mr. Johnson opened his first service station/tire store in 1973 at the age of 52 after 27 years as a truck driver.
Over the next 13 years, he expanded Henry Johnson Tire Co. to 18 locations along the Eastern Seaboard before selling them in 1986 to Merchant's Tire Co. Along the way, according to his son Richard Johnson, he pioneered ideas such as a free front-end alignment with the purchase of two tires and the “four-for” concept of selling four tires for a set price.
After retiring at age 68, he moved to Naples, Fla. There, he started another tire and automotive store, eventually opening a second store before selling the stores to his son Rick Johnson in 1998 and retiring for good at age 80.
Mr. Johnson is survived by his wife of 62 years,Violet Beasley Johnson; a daughter, Gloria Jean Thompson; son Richard, who operates seven Rick Johnson Auto & Tire outlets in the Naples area; and four grandchildren.