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Specialty Tire, parent company reach milestone

Since 1994, Specialty Tire of America has been a staple in Unicoi County.
Last week, the company, and its parent company Polymer Enterprises, Inc., celebrated their 100th anniversary, according to a press release issued to The Erwin Record.
Unicoi is one location for a Speciality Tire facility that is “Made in the U.S.A.” The other is located in Indiana, Penn. The parent company is also based in Pennsylvania and has another operation locally in Piney Flats.
The birth of the company dates back to May 1915.
According to the release, Specialty Tire of America was “launched in Pennsylvania in May of 1915, amid the early days of World War I. The privately owned company has grown to include over 700 employees, but its history is not without trial. The company survived the Great Depression, supplied military tires in World War II, and was still supplying the military during the U.S. recession and oil crisis of the early 1980s, which pressed the company’s debt well in excess of its assets.
“CEO Henry McCreary trusted his instincts and one company insider’s track record when he promoted former U.S. Marine and McCreary corporate relations chief, Donald D. Mateer Jr., to president with orders to reorganize the company and set it back on course,” the release continues. “Mateer led the teams and set a clear direction that brought the company back from the edge, enough so that by 1994 he was named Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year. Don D. Mateer Jr., remained at the helm of Specialty Tire America until his son, Donald Mateer III, was selected as the next CEO. Mateer Jr.’s late son, David D. Mateer, managed the Race Tires of America Division. Additionally, daughter Charlotte Mateer Stephenson began to carry on her father’s mission through the development and administration of the Donald D. Mateer Foundation that he founded in 2012. Their work continued a lifetime of family involvement and indicated their commitment and lessons learned after years of observing the company’s and their father’s business endeavors.”
Specialty Tires of America then made its way to Unicoi County, due to demand that prompted a $30 million expansion in Unicoi.
Members of the company designed a 50-acre property and manufacturing facility to meet the needs at the time, and for the future. According to the release, there is enough property for doubling the facility to up to 600,000 square feet.
The company serves as a tire market, supplying products to automobile enthusiasts, the U.S. military, and tires for particular requirements in aeronautics, agriculture, forestry, industrial handling and other items.
“The county’s investment in land and infrastructure in the early 1990s and Polymer Enterprises’ private investment in their company and in Unicoi County fortunately has led to a partnership that has lasted for over 20 years,” said Lee Brown, chairman of the Joint Economic Development Board of Unicoi County. “On behalf of the entire board, we appreciate their investment, their entrepreneurial ambition and their commitment to planning for the company’s future. We wish them great success for another 100 years.”
Unicoi’s facility is also still going strong and looking forward to the future, according to plant manager Tom Slane.
“We’re very proud to be part of such a great community,” he said. “We have a tremendous workforce we are thankful for and we’re looking forward to the next 100 years.”
The “hard-won” success has bred the importance of a strong work ethic and fortitude through the Donald D. Mateer Scholarship Fund commemorating Polymer Enterprises’ 2015 Centennial Celebration, according to the company.
Hard work from the work by the company is looked at when looking for scholarship candidates, according to the press release, with the application’s essay requirement stating, “the adage ‘adversity builds character’ underscores our company’s resolve to overcome the many challenges we have faced in our 100 year history.”
Visit, for additional information on the company and scholarship opportunities.