A tire business change: Long-time owner Frank Anderson heads into retirement

Frank Anderson, long-time owner of a tire shop that has become a fixture on Hawcreek Avenue in Columbus, is turning over the business to new owners.

Best One of Indy, which has operated several stores under the name of Indy Tire and Auto Service Center for several years, officially acquired the Anderson company on Feb. 1.

Along with the change of ownership came a Friday retirement for Frank Anderson, 73, who has operated the 10,672-square-foot franchise at the corner of 23rd Street and Hawcreek Avenue since 1971.

Anderson and Best One President Rich Elliott said the entire staff will be retained under the new ownership.

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While Anderson said he would have preferred not to sell his business, neither of his children could take over the franchise because they have successful careers of his own.

When he worked with the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, Anderson became good friends with Ed Pence, the late father of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Indiana congressman Greg Pence.

Another loyal customer has been Force Construction Inc. president Harold Force, who describes Anderson as his company’s “go-to” guy for all tire-related issues.

“Frank is the kind of businessman we should all try to be,” Force said. “He’s fair, competitive, loyal to his people, and does a great job for the community.”

Force said Anderson was “solid as a rock,” and that he doubted the retiring tire shop owner would ever turn anyone away who was in need.

While serious about the company’s work, Anderson was known for decades for his unique print advertising, which featured the faces of employees superimposed on different characters.

Anderson said he preferred that style over conventional advertisements that focus solely on sale prices.

“If you advertise a tire for $20, somebody else is going to advertise it for $12, so all you are doing is giving someone else ammunition,” Anderson said. “With these ads, people appreciate our humor, and it gets them to look at the ads.”

Columbus East support

Although Frank and his late wife Carol Ann did not attend Columbus East, their children, Don and Rebecca, graduated from the high school there in 1991 and 1998, respectively. The Andersons were part of a group of parents nicknamed “The Blacksmiths” who assisted East athletics.

Anderson was always been the driving force behind recruitment and projects for the group, according to East football coach Bob Gaddis.

“When there are things nobody else wants to do or even think about, Frank is the one who does it,” Gaddis said. “Frank has volunteered a countless amount of time to East athletics, especially football.”

Gaddis said he’s hopeful Anderson will be able to work with East athletics more now that he is retired.

The couple’s volunteerism on behalf of the Columbus East Olympians resulted in the couple being named 2015 honorary inductees into the Columbus East Wall of Fame. That honor came posthumously for Carol Ann who died in Jan. 2011, at age 64 after a year-long illness.

When asked about adjusting to that loss, Anderson’s voice and demeanor became tender, as he said the loss was very difficult.

“It still is,” he said softly.

Supporting the community

When asked what he’ll always remember about operating his own business, Anderson spoke about the high number of Columbus residents who actively support their community.

“It’s been a great place to raise a family,” he said.

Born in Peru, Indiana in 1945, Frank Anderson was raised in the unincorporated community of Beaver Dam in Kosciusko County. While his mother was a homemaker, his father made his living by driving a beer truck, Anderson said.

The fact that he brought truckloads of beer gave his father the distinction of being the only civilian permitted on what is now Grissom Air Reserve base during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, he said.

That same year, Anderson’s skills as an offensive tackle was impressive enough to get the attention of football recruiters from Earlham College. After graduating from Peru High School in 1963, Anderson headed off for the Richmond campus on a athletic scholarship.

While Anderson said there was much about Earlham that impressed him, he said he felt uncomfortable there and decided to leave the school.

After working a short time as a laborer in Warsaw, a childhood friend named Bud Zollman was instrumental in getting Anderson a corporate position with Firestone Tire Co.

The company first transferred him to Bloomington to work as an office credit manager where he met his future wife, North Vernon native Carol Ann Eggleston.

The company then transferred Anderson to Muncie — where he received his draft notification from the U.S. Marines.

After being stationed for some time at Camp Pendleton in southern California in 1965, Anderson would find himself stationed in Okinawa, Japan. He became part of a 1,100 man company specializing in logistics, which means moving supplies throughout southeast Asia.

Since there were threats of riots from some Japanese against the U.S. military presence in Okinawa at the time, Anderson was ordered to undergo sniper training.

The riots didn’t break out until three years after Anderson left Japan, and he was reassigned for the remainder of his military career to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

Once back in the U.S., he and Carol Ann married on Oct. 12, 1968 and lived for a short time in Warsaw while he worked again for Firestone.

Coming to Columbus

It was while the couple lived in Warsaw that Anderson was noticed by a former Firestone division manager — Ray Monteith — who was buying independent franchises in Indiana. Impressed by the young man’s work ethic, Monteith told Anderson that if he was willing to work directly for his franchise, rather than the corporation, he would eventually give Anderson the opportunity to open his own tire franchise.

After a few years, he gave Anderson his choice of either running a Firestone franchise in Elkhart — or in Columbus. He made the choice to move to Bartholomew County.

After arriving in early 1971 to check out several potential locations, the Andersons purchased what was known then as the Model Trimmer Inc. — a company formed in 1949 to manufacture a new sheet metal trimming machine.

The family-owned company had just gone out of business prior to the Anderson’s arrival, so it was acquired for the new tire store even before real estate listings were made.

When Frank Anderson Tire Inc. opened its door for the first time in November 1971, they started with a staff of only three employees. As of last month, the company has 15 workers.

“Carol handled the business end while I handled the service,” Anderson said. “We had a real partnership.”

Over the decades, that partnership extended into community service, as well as the tire business. During a public address in 1986, former Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce President Ed Wolking said “Frank Anderson is a man of few words, but he is a doer and a real people person.”

Many of the awards and memorabilia he’s collected over the years have been displayed in his office. But one of his favorite possessions is an old “Frank Anderson for Sheriff” political yard sign. Although the sign referred to another Frank Anderson, who served as sheriff of Marion County from 2003 to 2011, it’s still one of his favorite possessions.

As far as regrets go, Anderson says the only thing he wishes he had done was to open a second location on Columbus’ west side.

While he does plan to visit his children and grandchildren often during his retirement, Anderson said there is one thing he looks forward to more than anything else.

“Not working Saturdays,” he said with a laugh.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Frank Anderson ” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Age: 73

Birthplace: Peru, Indiana

Raised: Beaver Dam in Kosciusko County

Education: Graduated in 1963 from Peru High School. Later attended Earlham College in Richmond.

Military: Joined U.S. Marines in 1965. Honorably discharged in 1971.

Occupation: Operated Frank Anderson Tire Inc. from the fall of 1971 through Feb. 1.

Wife: Carol Ann Eggleston Anderson (1946-2011). Two grown children, Donald and Rebecca.

[sc:pullout-text-end][sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Community service” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

For several decades, Frank and Carol Ann Anderson became involved in a variety of several community activities that include:

  • Member of the executive board for the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce (Frank)
  • 1986 recipients of the chamber’s Small Businessperson of the Year award (Carol and Frank)
  • Volunteer work building ticket booths, painting buildings, fixing broken equipment and performing various maintenance at Columbus East High School. (Frank)
  • Senior project judge and mentor (Carol and Frank)
  • Sports videographer for Columbus East (Frank)
  • Livestock buyers at the annual Bartholomew County 4-H Fair since the early 1970s. (Carol and Frank)
  • Volunteerism with Kappa Sigma Sorority Beta Chapter. (Carol)
  • Various activities at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church. (Carol and Frank)