Harlan Williams was so close to retirement his wife was already planning the various tire-themed dessert treats that would accompany his party in August.
But Mr. Williams decided against retirement, and instead the party celebrated his 80th birthday.
``I'm only 80, I can't retire yet,'' Mr. Williams told Tire Business.
His decision wasn't a big shocker to his wife, Gwen. They've been married 41 years, and he's owned Williams Tire Co., a Bandag Inc. franchise, in Fullerton for 33 years. Mrs. Williams said she realized the retirement probably wouldn't happen when they were at home one Saturday afternoon, and he was obviously unhappy about having nothing to do.
``He's just so programmed for it,'' she joked.
Mr. Williams affirmed her conclusion. ``There's nothing else to do,'' he said. ``Sit home and watch Oprah on TV? I don't want to do that.''
His first job in the industry was selling truck tires for Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. in 1954. He worked with the tire maker for about 16 years. When asked what has kept him in the industry for so long, he didn't beat around the bush: ``Making the money,'' he said.
Mr. Williams said the most memorable time during his career was working for 18 months in Pakistan on the Mangla Dam, which was completed in 1967. Mr. Williams helped oversee the off-highway retread plant there and serviced earthmover tires used in the dam's construction.
In Fullerton, Mr. Williams sells new Yokohama truck tires in addition to Bandag retreads. His sons Scott, 46, and Bryce, 50, also are in the company-Scott manages the retread shop, and Bryce is in sales.
Mrs. Williams-who jokes that she's the ``neck that makes the head turn''-handles the finances and helps her husband around the office. Three years ago an illness damaged one of his legs, but she said he's doing much better, acknowledging that many people have asked about his condition.
``Everybody loves him, even his competitors,'' she said.
Mrs. Williams added that one customer in particular travels from Redding, Calif., just to have Williams Tire service his trucks.
``He's one of our biggest customers,'' she said. ``That says something.''
Mr. Williams said he won't try again at retirement anytime soon.
``I plan to stay here as long as I can,'' he said.