Fountain, Gamauf, Kanwar and Snow selected for induction into the Tire Industry Hall of Fame

Jan. 1, 2020
Bill Fountain, John Gamauf, Onkar Kanwar and Ralph ?Buddy? Snow are the class of 2011 inductees into the Tire Industry Hall of Fame.
Bill Fountain, John Gamauf, Onkar Kanwar and Ralph “Buddy” Snow are the class of 2011 inductees into the Tire Industry Hall of Fame.

They will be officially enshrined Oct. 31 as part of the Tire Industry Association (TIA) honors ceremonies at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas Hotel.

“Their remarkable careers have helped to make the tire industry what it is today, and they exemplify everything that is great about this industry,” says TIA Executive Vice President Roy Littlefield.


Bill Fountain is the late founder of Edmonton, Alberta-based Fountain Tire. In 1956, Bill and Jack Fountain opened the first Fountain Tire store in Wainwright, Alberta. Bill’s vision and drive led the company to add agricultural tire services to meet the needs of local farmers and to eventually expand the business into more rural areas, according to Littlefield.

He established stores in Fort St. John, British Columbia, and Whitehorse, Yukon – towns that serviced much of the burgeoning Alaska Highway. The new locations proved successful, setting the blueprint for the business’ future growth. He also set up key store managers as owner-partners in their stores. In 1967, Bill Fountain and other tire dealers from Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta formed the Astro Tire & Rubber Co., creating their own private label tire brand. In 1976, 20 years after he had started the business, Bill was killed in a tragic car accident. Today, Fountain Tire has 145 locations across western Canada. In 2006, the Western Canada Tire Dealers Association honored Bill with its Pioneer Member Award, and in 2005, Alberta Venture magazine named him one of the “100 Alberta Entrepreneurs of the Century.” He was recently inducted into the Alberta Business Hall of Fame.


John Gamauf joined Firestone Tire & Service Center in Chicago in 1969 as a general service technician, rising through the ranks as one of the most dynamic, influential and respected individuals in the tire industry, Littlefield says. As the years continued, he took on various positions of increasing responsibility, from assistant wholesale zone manager in Chicago to vice president of consumer tire sales. He was also primarily responsible for creating one of the most successful dealer programs in the industry, the Affiliated Dealer Program, which is now a core component of the company's Family Channel philosophy.


In May 2003, he became president of the consumer replacement tire division at Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, where he served in this capacity until his retirement in May of 2008. He has been active in many civic organizations, including the Walter Payton Foundation raising money for Alliance for Children, and he was Bridgestone’s chairman for the Nashville United Way campaign.


As chairman of Apollo Tyres, Ltd, Onkar Kanwar plays a pivotal role in the firm’s operations and the articulation of its business philosophy. Under his leadership, Apollo transformed itself from an ailing company to become the No. 1 commercial vehicle tire manufacturer in India and a global entity with a full-fledged product portfolio, with manufacturing facilities on three continents and multiple brands across product segments, Littlefield reports.

Kanwar has been closely associated with leading national and international industry organizations, including serving as president of FICCI and chairman of ATMA. An initiative close to his heart is Apollo’s HIV-AIDS awareness and prevention program for the trucking community. His interest in healthcare led him to establish a super-specialty, tertiary care hospital, Artemis Health Institute, in Gurgaon, India.


Ralph “Buddy” Snow started his career in the retread industry with his family-owned business, Dixie-Cap, in 1965. In 1969, he was elected president of Dixie-Cap and served in that capacity until the company was acquired by Oliver Rubber in 1979. For the next 23 years he served as the vice president and counsel for Oliver until retiring in 2002.

In 2003, he became a registered mediator with the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution and still serves in that role. He was one of the founders of the Tread Rubber & Tire Repair Materials Manufacturing Group (TRMG), where he participated in writing the bylaws and served several times over the years as chairman, corporate secretary and permanent chair of the legislative committee. He was also actively involved in the formation of the Tire Retread Information Bureau (TRIB), where he served as corporate secretary and as a member of the board of directors. He also helped form the Retread Industry Government Advisory Council (RIGAC) in 1992, where he assisted in writing the Articles of Incorporation for RIGAC and served as its corporate secretary and TRMG delegate.

Admission to Tire Industry Honors event in Las Vegas is complimentary, although an RSVP through the TIA is required.

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