HomeCar CultureCommentaryCorky Coker sells tire company to management team

Corky Coker sells tire company to management team


The management team of Coker Group has purchased the company from its founding family, the company announced Thursday. Irving Place Capital, a private equity firm based in New York City, provided support for the management team purchase.

From a local tire shop, Coker Tire grew under Harold Coker and his son, Corky, into the leading provider of new tires for classic vehicles. Corky Coker and his children will retain ownership of the Honest Charley Speed Shop and Chestnut Properties, but the sale includes Coker Tire, Wheel Vintiques, Universal Vintage Tire, Phoenix Race Tires, and the Specialty Wheel and Roadster Wire Wheel brands.

Wade Kawasaki has run Coker Tire for five years and also is SEMA chairman | Larry Edsall photo

“We intend to accelerate growth with our partners at Irving Place Capital as we expand into newer models and markets while continuing to serve the traditional restoration market that has been our home for six decades,” said Wade Kawasaki, who has been Coker president and chief operating officer for five years, moving up when Corky Coker officially retired in 2014.

Kawasaki also serves as chairman of SEMA, the Speciality Equipment Market Association, the trade group for the automotive aftermarket product industry.

At the recent SEMA Show, in addition to introducing its newest tires for vintage vehicles, Coker Group announced that it had taken an ownership stake in a company that sells classic car tires in Europe.

“After my retirement in 2014, the Coker Group flourished under the leadership of Wade and his team,” Corky Coker was quoted in the company’s announcement. “Coker Group has been and will continue to be committed to our core vintage customer and I have full confidence that this next step will be terrific for the company and the employees. 

“The collector car market is evolving, and with the current surge in interest in 1970s, 1980s and even 90s vehicles, no one is better suited to expand the company strategically than Wade, who has always had a deep appreciation for these vehicles.”

“Coker Group will continue to provide our customers with the same best-in-class products, great customer service that they know to expect and we look forward to creating more jobs, offering more products and continuing the Coker Group legacy together,” Kawasaki added.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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