BOWIE, Md. — The Tire Industry Association (TIA) has selected Brent Hesje, CEO of Fountain Tire Ltd., and the late Frank Holeman, director of the Tire Industry Safety Council in the 1970s and '80s, for induction into its Hall of Fame.
TIA also will present the Ed Wagner Leadership Award for 2019 to Edward A. Burleson Sr., president and owner of Central Marketing Inc.in Colonial Heights, Va.
The honorees will be recognized during the Tire Industry Honors awards ceremony, Nov. 4, at Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino prior to the opening of the 2019 Specialty Equipment Marketers Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas.
The Hall of Fame Award is the tire industry's highest honor, according to TIA. It recognizes individuals who have contributed to the growth and development of the tire industry or have demonstrated high standards, ideals and leadership in the management of their businesses and in the tire community and have achieved goals and success that distinguishes them from others.
This year's honorees come from disparate ends of the tire industry.
Mr. Hesje joined Fountain Tire in 1992 as vice president of marketing and became CEO of the tire dealership in 2005, succeeding his father Brian in that role.
During his time with the company, Fountain Tire has nearly tripled its number of stores to 160, from 56 in Alberta only, and expanded its marketing territory across Canada from British Columbia to Ontario.
Fountain Tire, 49% owned by Goodyear, uses an ownership strategy providing a 50/50 ownership of its stores with local store managers.
Since 1992, Fountain Tire has doubled the number of retread plants it operates to six and evolved into a vertically integrated comprehensive tire and automotive business by adding mine service, tire wholesale and five distribution centers. Consolidated sales over this period increased nearly ninefold to $605.8 million in 2018 from $67.9 million in 1992, while employment grew to 2,475 from 400.
Mr. Hesje is active in volunteer work, serving on numerous education, community and corporate boards. He is the immediate past chair of the Automotive Industries Association of Canada, the country's largest automotive aftermarket nonprofit; a past board member of the Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council; and currently serves as an adviser to the Productivity & Innovation Centre of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.
He previously chaired the Institute's Essential Campaign that raised a record $123 million and is a past chair of the school's board of governors.
Mr. Holeman, who died in 1996 at age 76, had been Washington bureau chief of the New York Daily News when he was recruited in 1969 by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) — predecessor of the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association — to head up the then-newly established Tire Industry Safety Council (TISC) as director, a post he held until 1987. At the time, TISC was a separate entity, but under the aegis of the RMA.
During his tenure at TISC, Mr. Holeman was the public voice of safety for tire manufacturers, dealers and distributors. At a time when the tire industry was under attack by safety activists and the subject of frequent negative publicity, Mr. Holeman was the pioneer in presenting the public and the federal government the industry's message of dedication to tire manufacturing excellence, quality professional service and the necessity of proper tire care and maintenance, TIA said, noting he enjoyed the confidence and admiration of all branches of the tire industry.
Mr. Holeman was the 1956 president of the National Press Club. A lounge in the Press Club building in Washington is named after him and a plaque in the building states that at the request of then-U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Mr. Holeman brought together Russians, Cubans and Americans to negotiate the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
The Ed Wagner Leadership Award is presented to individuals or companies that demonstrate leadership, or innovation in products and services, that foster and promote the tire, retreading and/or tire recycling industries.