Black’s Tire Service Inc. is doubling the size of its largest warehouse, investing more than $2.6 million to add space to meet the demands of size proliferation and larger wheel sizes. The company is making the investment in its hometown of Whiteville, N.C., adding 65,000 square feet to the warehouse that sits behind the corporate office and training center, says Rick Benton, vice president of the nation’s 27th largest independent tire dealer in the country.
Benton says construction will begin in the next three months, and the project should be complete in nine months. The company will hire at least 26 more employees.
He says adding more space “isn’t so much about the quantity of tires, it’s the sizes, the 20s, 22s and 24s.” The current warehouse has an official capacity around 150,000 tires, but the combination of size proliferation, plus the trend toward larger wheels has pressed the space issue. And because Black’s Tire Service operates not just 46 retail and commercial stores, but also a wholesale division, BTS Tire & Wheel Distributors, the company’s inventory is critical to serving its wholesale customers. It stocks everything from small lawn and garden tires to off-the-road tires in its Whiteville warehouse, plus its four other distribution centers. Benton says the company serves more than 4,000 wholesale customers.
“We want to be a full-line distributor. We want to service our partner dealers in North and South Carolina. We’ve got a lot of partner dealers, independents, just like us,” Benton says.
The expansion comes as Black’s Tire Service celebrates 90 years in business. The business was founded in 1929 by W. Crowell Black, and the original store in Whiteville remains in operation. Ricky Benton, Rick Benton’s father, joined the company in 1981 and bought it in 1996. The elder Benton is owner and president, and he works alongside his three sons, Rick, Ryan and Jeremy. Ricky Benton was Modern Tire Dealer’s 2015 Tire Dealer of the Year.
Black’s Tire Service hosted Gov. Roy Cooper and other dignitaries July 23 to make the expansion announcement. The company will receive a $75,000 performance-based grant from the One North Carolina Fund for the expansion.
In remarks during that event, Rick Benton told the economic development leaders “in our industry the number one key to our success is that we provide customer service each and every day. That’s the only thing that separates us. We use the term ‘whatever it takes.’ Our motto is for us as a company to provide the best service possible to humbly serve our communities and never get complacent.
“And to survive for generations to come we at BTS knew that we needed to expand our operations, including our warehouse, distribution and logistics.
“Black’s Tire Service began locally, has grown locally and we are happy to expand our operations right here in Columbus County. Our home here in Columbus County has faced great adversity with two, not one, but two devastating hurricanes over the past couple years and it’s affected many, many families and businesses. One way to support or foster this recovery will be in encouraging businesses to create job opportunities close to home. It is our hope that this expansion and job creation is the first of many, and can spark new growth for not only our business but other businesses in our communities.”