Gross' great-grandfather Harry Gross started the business in 1933 as an Atlantic Petroleum gas station that did oil changes and sold tires.
In the 1940s, he retired and his son John Gross Sr. took over. When the business outgrew the facility, he moved the business to its current location in 1946. The converted colonial-style house served as the family residence and office for the business, with a single service bay next door and Gulf Oil gas pumps in the front.
His son John Gross Jr. took over the Gulf gas station in 1970 and sold Gulf Cruisemaster tires. He exited the gas business in the early 1990s, but continued to sell tires, including the Cavalier tire brand, and offered minor services such as oil changes and wiper and battery replacements.
Kerry Gross grew up helping his father handle and mount tires in the shop. He recalled how his father realized at one point that he had priced the Cavalier tires at half the manufacturer's suggested retail price in a catalog, so he started advertising a "buy one, get one free" promotion for Cavalier tires, which dramatically boosted his tire sales.
When Cavalier tires were discontinued, Gross Tire began selling TBC Corp. tire brands, including Cordovan, Multimile and Sigma, about the time Kerry Gross took over the business in 1999.
For years, Gross ran the business by himself and, since he wasn't a mechanic, he only sold and mounted tires. He expanded his inventory to include major brands and private brands.
In his first year he said he sold about 1,600 tires a year; one year he sold as many as 10,000 tires during a economic boon; last year he sold about 8,000 tires.
The business has grown and today the shop has three full-time and two part-time employees, including his 17-year-old son Lucas, a potential fifth-generation owner, who is taking an automotive course at his high school.
Gross said his family had smooth successions from father to son, with each son working with the father before taking the reins.
After his father retired, Kerry Gross said he would still come into the shop a few days a week to drink coffee and chat with customers, just as his retired grandfather would do.
"I have a feeling in another 20 years I'll be part of the coffee crew here, solving the world's problems, talking about different situations while drinking coffee — and being in the way."