In Chalmette, La., a New Orleans suburb, Tire Pros/American Car Care Centers (ACCC) Inc. dealership Discount Tire City was under water, according to Hugh McCulley, southeast director of marketing for Ampac Tire Distributors Inc.
Mr. McCulley said Discount Tire City owner Coco Depascual had evacuated and was safe, but his home also was badly flooded. To his knowledge, Mr. McCulley said Discount Tire's employees are all safe as well, but he said he wasn't certain how to contact Mr. Depascual since Ampac's branch office in Jackson, Miss., has had interrupted phone service.
However, Mr. Depascual is the only Tire Pros/ACCC dealer who was severely impacted by the hurricane, and Mr. McCulley said Ampac is planning to deliver equipment, inventory and whatever else Mr. Depascual needs once he's allowed back into the New Orleans area.
``We just don't know what he needs right now,'' Mr. McCulley said. ``We don't know how bad the damage is, we don't know if he is going to be able to reopen.''
Another ACCC dealer in Mobile, Ala., Trax Tire Pros, suffered some damage to its bay doors, but all five stores are operational again, Mr. McCulley said, adding that Ampac has loaned generators from its Pensacola, Fla., warehouse to Trax Tire Pros.
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American Tire Distributors Inc. said the company and its dealer partners were impacted by Hurricane Katrina and that the structural damage varies by dealer, according to Ron Sinclair, ATD's vice president of marketing.
``ATD will assist our dealers in all ways possible in the aftermath of this natural disaster,'' Mr. Sinclair said.
The distributor's centers in Mobile, Ala., and Jackson, Miss., were the closest to the hurricane's landfall and temporarily lost power and phone service during the storm. Both facilities are operational now, Mr. Sinclair said.
He added that ATD has made a monetary contribution to the Red Cross Hurricane Relief Fund.
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Robison Tire Co., based in Laurel, Miss., lost an outlet in Hattiesburg, Miss., to the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, but Owner/President Joe Robison said the firm's other three retail and two wholesale outlets came through relatively undamaged.
Robison Tire's outlets were out of power for two to three days, Mr. Robison said, and got telephone service restored Sept. 7, allowing them to get to work in earnest. He praised the work that several out-of-state electric and telephone service crews accomplished in the days following the hurricane.
One employee lost his mobile home, but otherwise the dealership's employees came through relatively unscathed, said Mr. Robison, who rode out Katrina at home ``against my better judgment.''
For now the company is busy servicing the rescue and relief crews in the area, but Mr. Robison expects business to return to a sense of normalcy soon as the highways and roads in the area are getting cleared.
In and around Laurel, he said, most of the property damage was from trees and power poles falling.
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The Independent Tire Dealers Group (ITDG) and Fausak Tires & Service of Mobile, Ala., are establishing a Hurricane Katrina relief fund to help families in the Mobile area with the recovery process.
Chris, Chip and Randy Fausak, together with Dennis and Donnie Lowry-all co-owners of Fausak Tire-and their families escaped injury, but few in the area have escaped property damage, according to Juno Beach, Fla.-based ITDG. Chip Fausak said the dealership had sustained some damage from the storm and was closed until Aug. 31 due to a power outage.
He said everyone at the dealership weathered the storm unhurt, and he knew that only Donnie Lowry had lost his home on Dauphin Island off the coast. ``We were blessed,'' he said.
ITDG members who wish to donate can fill out a form or send a check made out to ITDG L.L.C., noting in the memo section ``Katrina Relief Fund.'' All proceeds will be forwarded to Fausak Tires, which will act as administrator and distribute the funds to the local American Red Cross chapter.
For more information, call ITDG at (561) 630-8737 or Fausak Tires at (251) 661-8671, or visit their Web sites at www.independent-tire.net and www.fausaktire.com.
Bridgestone Corp. and its North American subsidiaries have contributed more than $1 million to the American Red Cross. The donation includes $900,000 from Bridgestone Corp., $100,000 from Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. and $10,000 from Firestone Polymers Co. with another $10,000 budgeted for employee matching funds. In addition, more than 2,200 Firestone-owned tire stores across the U.S. agreed to act as official Red Cross cash donation sites to help Hurricane Katrina victims.
``As a global company, we are touched by the physical devastation and human suffering that Hurricane Katrina left in her wake,'' said Shigeo Watanabe, Bridgestone chairman, CEO and president. ``We have teammates, customers and consumers who have suffered terribly, and we are honored to do our part to help the American Red Cross alleviate some of the suffering.''
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Michelin North America Inc. said it would contribute $100,000 to the American Red Cross and match employee contributions up to another $100,000.
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Goodyear plans to use its blimps to encourage people to donate to the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, and the tire maker also is working on accounting for all of its employees and arranging jobs for displaced workers.
``We recognize relief efforts will go on for months, and we pledge our resources in support of these efforts as a way to keep the American public focused on the needs,'' said Chuck Sinclair, senior vice president of global communications for the tire maker.
Goodyear also said it is exploring alternative work opportunities in other Goodyear facilities for workers affected by the storm and subsequent flooding. The company also is considering establishing emergency service centers in the area with mobile tire service trucks to fulfill on-site demand.
``We still have associates unaccounted for, and we are making every effort to locate them and to ensure support of affected associates and families,'' Mr. Sinclair said.
Finally, Goodyear said it is prioritizing the supply of tires for police cruisers, utility trucks, tractors, loaders and other work vehicles.
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East Bay Tire Co. has pledged $20,000 to the Salvation Army for relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina.
Fairfield, Calif.-based East Bay Tire, which operates two wholesale centers in California and one in Hawaii along with three commercial outlets in California, decided to make the donation after viewing the terrible destruction and aftermath of the huge storm, CFO Frank Hallare said.
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Crain Communications Inc., publisher of Tire Business, has pledged $100,000 to relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast as well as matching funds for employees' donations.
Detroit-based Crain said it will donate $50,000 immediately to the American Red Cross to help in areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama devastated by the storm. The company also will donate another $50,000 to a second disaster relief agency yet to be named.
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The Tire Industry Association has set up a toll-free number for TIA members in Louisiana and Mississippi to find aid.
Tire dealers whose stores and inventories were destroyed or damaged may call (800) 876-8372, ext. 103, to obtain a listing of available state, local and federal aid resources, including how to register for disaster assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
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Treadways Corp. said it has donated $10,000 to the American Red Cross' Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund.
``Our hearts go out to all of those people affected by this devastating hurricane,'' said Dan Wire, CEO of the East Norriton, Pa.-based company. ``We hope our donation will provide some help with much-needed supplies.''
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The Automotive Service Association (ASA) launched a Web site Sept. 1 designed to aid mechanical and collision shops affected by Hurricane Katrina.
The Web site is accessible at asashop.blogspot.com, or at ASA's home page, www.asashop.org.
ASA said the Web site offers its members and other industry professionals the ability to post ways they can help businesses affected by the disaster. The Bedford, Texas-based association is asking for those who are willing to offer business assistance, or donate shop equipment or other necessities, to visit the Web site and post those offerings. Those who have been affected by the hurricane can post their needs on the Web site as well.
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Inovex Industries Inc., maker of Ride-On Tire Protection System tire sealant, is offering a 10-percent discount off its regular pricing through Dec. 31 for qualified 501(c)(3) organizations, municipalities, federal agencies and state and local governments, and it will donate 10 percent of the proceeds of sales through this offer to the American Red Cross and Convoy of Hope.
Tire Business staff members Lisa Hockensmith, Vera Fedchenko, Bruce Davis and Sigmund J. Mikolajczyk contributed to this report.