26 Most Fascinating Entrepreneurs: Barry Steinberg Craig Sumerel

From: Inc. Magazine, April 2005 | By: null



Barry Steinberg & Craig Sumerel Direct Tire and Auto Service

for showing the power of the peer group

Five years ago Barry Steinberg, 59, and Craig Sumerel, 38, both successful tire retailers, ran into each other in the lobby at Pirelli. They traded war stories, griped a bit, and realized that they had so much in common that they ought to talk more regularly. That chance encounter has grown into the National Retail Tire Network, a 12-member peer group that meets for two days three times a year. "We have 275 locations, sell 3 million tires a year, employ 5,000 people, and have revenue of $500 million," says Steinberg (above right). Some manufacturers have offered the group a bulk discount, and the Tire Industry Association's PAC coordinator spoke at a recent meeting after a presentation on a new trend: filling tires with nitrogen instead of air. Group members, who hail from far-flung markets, could never command as much attention on their own. Besides the recognition, members gladly pay $1,200 in annual dues to be less isolated. "I can call up a competitor down the street, but we're guarded with one another," Steinberg says. In the peer group, everything's out in the open, even financials.

Donna Fenn

26 Most Fascinating Entrepreneurs

  1. Martha Stewart, Martha Stewart Omnimedia
    because she took one for the team
  2. Richard Branson, Virgin Group
    because he's game for anything. In fact, everything.
  3. Michael Dell, Dell Computer
    for being brilliantly straightforward
  4. Jim Sinegal, Costco
    because who knew a big-box chain could have a generous soul?
  5. Diane von Furstenberg, Diane von Furstenberg Studio
    for staging an elegant comeback
  6. Julie Azuma, Different Roads to Learning
    for offering hope and help to the parents of autistic children
  7. Fritz Maytag, Anchor Brewing
    for setting limits
  8. Ray Kurzweil, Kurzweil Technologies and other companies
    because he is Edison's rightful heir
  9. Craig Newmark, Craigslist
    for putting the free in free markets
  10. Jack Mitchell, Mitchells/Richards
    because his family business makes an art of customer service
  11. Frank Robinson, Robinson Helicopter
    for whipping an entire industry into shape
  12. Mark Melton, Melton Franchise Systems
    for giving immigrants their shot at the American Dream
  13. Michelle Cardinal & Tim O'Leary, Cmedia and Respond2
    for rewriting the rules for husband-and-wife teams
  14. Mike Lazaridis, Research in Motion
    because someone had to stand up for all those frustrated engineers
  15. Trip Hawkins, Electronics Arts and Digital Chocolate
    for still scrapping
  16. Warren Brown, Cake Love and Love Cafe
    because only in America will someone quit a secure job as a lawyer to start a bakery
  17. Muriel Siebert, Muriel Siebert & Co.
    for being a notable first with a worthy second act
  18. Chuck Porter, Crispin, Porter + Bogusky
    for verging on reckless
  19. Katrina Markoff, Vosges Haut
    for setting a completely unreasonable goal for her business
  20. Barry Steinberg & Craig Sumerel, Direct Tire and Auto Service
    for showing the power of the peer group
  21. Victoria Parham, Virtual Support Services
    for serving as a mentor to military spouses
  22. Tom LaTour, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants
    for staying at fleabag hotels so that we don't have to
  23. Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams, Mitchell Gold
    for creating a true comfort zone
  24. Izzy & Coco Tihanyi, Surf Diva
    for kicking sand in the face of conventional wisdom
  25. Tony Lee, Ring Masters
    for saving 16 jobs, including his own
  26. Rueben Martinez, Libreria Martinez Books and Art Galleries
    for simultaneously building a business and nurturing Latino culture

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