FENTON, Mo.Donald W. Dobbs, co-founder and chairman of Dobbs Tire & Auto Centers Inc. and a former president of the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association (NTDRA), died March 6 after a brief illness. He was 76.
Mr. Dobbs and his father founded in 1976 the dealership that bears the family name and grew it into what the company said is the largest tire and automotive services retail chain in the greater St. Louis market, with 40 locations and more than 600 employees.
In a statement, Mr. Dobbs' son, David Dobbs, president and CEO of the dealership, extended his gratitude to the entire staff at Dobbs Tire & Auto Centers for the prayers and support for his father.
Together, we work in the tire and auto service business; however, I consider us all part of one large and close-knit family, he said. And to each associate family member, my family and I extend our sincere gratitude for your friendships, company loyalty and consideration and support during this especially difficult time.
Dobbs Tire said the elder Mr. Dobbs will be remembered for his success story as both family man and business entrepreneur in the retail tire and auto service industry.
The High Ridge, Mo.-based dealership ranks as the 26th largest independent retail tire dealership in the U.S. and is one of the St. Louis area's 150 largest privately held companies.
Mr. Dobbs was president in 1992-93 of the NTDRA, a forerunner organization of the current Tire Industry Association (TIA).
Roy Littlefield, TIA executive vice president, told Tire Business the association is saddened by the passing of Don Dobbs, a valued member of our association for many, many years.
Don served as president of NTDRA from 1992-1993, was inducted into the Missouri Tire Industry Association Hall of Fame in 2006, and has contributed greatly to the industry throughout his career. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the Dobbs family and everyone at Dobbs Tire & Auto.
For decades, Don Dobbs and his family were involved with and generous contributors to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the company said. He was a long time resident of Fenton, Mo., and Naples, Fla.
In 1996 Don Dobbs told Tire Business he was becoming less active in the day-to-day operations of the dealership he founded, turning over his responsibilities as president to son David, while concentrating instead on the real estate concerns of the business.
While the dealership continued to expand, the business was caught up in a tax scandal in May 1997. Mr. Dobbs and two other dealership executives admitted in U.S. District Court that they had received income from Dobbs Tire that was treated as business expenses on the corporation's books and not reported on the defendants' personal federal income tax returns.
Mr. Dobbs, chairman and CEO of the then-31-store retail chain, was sentenced to a five-month prison term and fined a total of $47,000.
A year later, putting the ordeal behind him, Mr. Dobbs told Tire Business that his dealership was planning to continue expanding, as it acquired a local competitor, and he called Dobbs Tire a successful, dominant player in the St. Louis market.
Mr. Dobbs is survived by Sue, his wife of 59 years; son David; daughter Laura Killoren; five grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.
More obituaries on page 17.