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Gross Tire celebrates 90 years of family ownership

Jun 13, 2023Jun 13, 2023

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Kerry Gross had a general idea of when his great-grandfather Harry A. Gross started what is now Gross Tire Center, but he didn't know the exact date.

It just so happened that he had a random conversation with a customer who worked in government and had easy access to those records. Not long after the chance talk, Kerry Gross had his answer.

May 11, 1933 was the date when Harry A. Gross opened an Atlantic Petroleum gas station that did oil changes and sold tires.

Gross Tire moved to this location in Williamsport, Pa., in 1946.

Ninety years and two days later, Kerry Gross celebrated the dealership's milestone on May 13 with a community celebration. The first 100 people received free commemorative T-shirts — those were gone within an hour or so — and the dealership gave away hats, can coolers, keychains, lanyards, toy cars and more — most of which were donated by vendors.

Workers grilled 200 hot dogs, given free to visitors along with soft drinks and assorted Utz-brand snacks. In addition, two food trucks were on site serving food for purchase.

Local radio station WILQ did a four-hour live remote at the dealership, bringing along its mascot, a rooster. Three drawings were held; Gross Tire gave away a Continental tire clock and a set of Thunderer tires, while WILQ gave away a prize package that included food, books and electronic items.

Kerry Gross (left) is interviewed live on the radio by WQIL host Ted Minier at Gross Tire 90th anniversary celebration, held May 13.

"I think my father, and his father and his father, would be proud," Kerry Gross said.

John Gross, Kerry's grandfather, started running the shop in the 1940s. As business grew, he moved the shop in 1946 to its current location, a colonial house that once was a family residence, in the middle of a high-traffic area. The shop operated with a single service bay and Gulf Oil gas.

In 1970, Kerry's father, John Gross Jr., took the shop over. He quit selling gas in the 1990s but continued to sell tires and offered services such as oil changes and wiper and battery replacements.

Kerry took over the business in 1999, becoming the fourth generation to operate it. Last year, a 1,500-sq.-ft. addition was completed, adding two more service bays and tripling the size of the workshop area. The building was repainted, and the parking lot was resurfaced.

A look inside a bay at Gross Tire.

The three service bays have five rim-clamp machines and two wheel balancers.

The dealership recently began selling wheels, and that business has taken off, according to Kerry Gross.

In addition, Gross Tire now performs oil changes, brake service and just months ago, became certified to perform emissions testing in Pennsylvania. That, too, has proven to be successful.

Williamsport, a town of 27,000, is known every summer for hosting the Little League World Series, which is televised nationally.

Gross Tire celebrated its 90th anniversary in May 2023.

In preparing for the 90th anniversary celebration, Kerry Gross discovered something unusual: Neither his great-great-grandfather, great-grandfather, grandfather or father were alive to see their grandsons take over the business.

Although he figures to be running the dealership for at least another decade, Kerry Gross is grooming his son, Lucas, a senior in high school, to take over the shop once he retires.

"I planning to break that string," Kerry said.

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