FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — Retread industry veteran George Edwards, 85, who helped found the former American Retreaders Association and its Louisville Retreaders Conference, died Feb. 19 of complications from Alzheimer´s disease.
Edwards also was a principal in International Rubber Industries Inc., which in 1971 billed itself as the first new independent tire manufacturing company in the U.S. in 50 years. He also founded the company that published "Retreaders Journal," which later became the "Tire Retreading/Repair Journal," the monthly publication of the ARA that had an international circulation of 3,000.
In 1996 he was elected to the Tire Industry Hall of Fame by the Tire Industry Association, the group formed when the ARA and the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association merged.
After serving in the U.S. Air Corps during World War II, Edwards went to work at Gates Rubber Co., then Armstrong Rubber Co. There he directed the research and development of tread rubber for both new tires and retreading. Later he worked at Manchester, N.H.-based Connaire Manufacturing Corp., one of the nation´s largest retreaders.
In 1954 he became managing director of the Central States Retreaders´ Association. Under his guidance, the organization later became the ARA.
Also that year, he founded Retreading Consultant Services and launched "Retreader´s Journal."
Edwards was instrumental in establishing in 1958 what would become the ARA World Tire Conference & Exhibition in Louisville, Ky. — known as the Louisville Retreaders Conference — as a rival of the NTDRA.
In July 1971, Edwards helped found International Rubber Industries. The firm produced the Sonic Steel-Guard, an all-steel cord premium passenger tire. However, the tire didn´t do well in testing, and 21/2 years later the firm restarted, with plans to expand production to 3,000 tires a day.
Smythe soon gained control of the company and Edwards left the business.
In the late 1970s Edwards used his tire industry experience to become a tire failure analyst and expert witness on product liability litigation. He later founded Edwards Photo.
Preceded in death by his first wife, Stephanie, he is survived by his wife, Margo, daughters, stepchildren and grandchildren.