Tire industry entrepreneur to receive 2016 Bell Tower of Fame Award

Dean McAtee
Dean McAtee

When the Japanese wanted to learn about modern tire retreading processes they came to the United States to visit Dean McAtee. When the National Tire and Retread Board needed an expert and someone to lobby for its cause at the national level, it elected Dean McAtee to the board. And when tire business owners wanted to start a statewide dealership association in Iowa, Dean McAtee was one of the founders.

Bell Tower of Fame Award recipients are honored for their professional or civic accomplishments that have significance at the state, national or international level. Dean McAtee of Jefferson has contributed on all levels. Award winners are required to have lived in Greene County for a portion of their lives and others have lived in Greene County their whole lives. Their successes bring great pride to Greene County.

Born on a farm east of Waukee, IA, McAtee called Adel and Dallas County, IA home during his growing up years. He graduated from Adel High School in 1949. He served in the Navy and was discharged in 1956. He furthered his education by taking courses at University of Maryland, University of Wisconsin and Drake University.

Goodyear Tire Company and McAtee also became linked in his early business career. He worked in Goodyear stores in Burlington, IA; Sterling, IL; Davenport, IA; Spencer, IA, and in 1966 he and his family moved to Jefferson, bought a store and renamed it McAtee Tire and Service Center.

During his long business career, McAtee Tire spread across Iowa with eight stores.

His entrepreneurial spirit resulted in building the most modern tire retread plant in the United States in the early 1970s to 1983. Dealers from Japan, Germany and numerous other countries visited to observe the operation and its methods.

His business achievements did not go unnoticed in Iowa and nationally. He served on the National Tire and Retread Association board of directors and also was a member of the Tire Retreading Institute Bureau and the Executive Tire Dealers Board. In 1996 he was honored with the company’s Distinguished Dealer Award.

One of the four founders of the Iowa Tire Dealers Association, McAtee later served as president, where he led in developing legislation supporting the tire industry and produced programs for developing dealers and their employees.

Always with an ear tuned to his customers’ needs, McAtee added “Pit Stops” to service farmers’ tire needs while in the fields. He invented a system for triple dual tires on tractors and had the first WATS communication line in Jefferson.

In the early 1980s he received a national award from The Arc of the United States recognizing his work with and employment of people with disabilities.

In 2006, the 40th anniversary of the McAtee Tire dealership in Jefferson, the McAtee/Goodyear relationship became even more telling. As part of the celebration, Goodyear brought its internationally famous blimp to Jefferson, where thousands of Iowans visited it during its week’s stay, and thousands more saw it flying the skies over central Iowa and heard and saw it through major media coverage across the Midwest. “A highlight of my entire career,” McAtee said, “and a way to say ‘thank you’ to the community for its support.”

McAtee understood that his business success would be dependent on community success, and committed his time to community service. He was elected to the city council for eight years when major municipal improvements were made.

He was president of the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce and received its Employer of the Year Award and Above and Beyond the Call Award and was named Boss of the Year by the Jefferson Jaycees.

He was elected to the Greene County Medical Center board of trustees and during his tenure major improvements were made and additional health care services created.

He helped charter a Kiwanis club in Jefferson, served as president, received the Kiwanis Hixson Award and was named Kiwanian of the Year for the organization’s Nebraska/Iowa district. He has been involved with a number of fundraising projects, including co-chairing the fund drive to construct the Greene County Community Center.

McAtee Tire celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, just as the Mahanay Memorial Carillon Tower celebrates its 50th anniversary – both testaments to success.

He and his wife, Lois, reside in Jefferson and are the parents of four daughters, Laurie, Sue, Jean and Dee.

McAtee will be presented his award at the Bell Tower Festival’s opening ceremonies on the Tower Plaza Friday, June 10, at 7 pm. A public reception for him will be held in the rotunda of the Greene County courthouse following the ceremony until 8:30 pm.

He will be grand marshal of the Bell Tower Festival parade on Saturday, June 11.

In Jefferson, 2006
In Jefferson, 2006
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