Strategic acquisitions have been a big driver behind K&M Tire Inc.’s extraordinary growth over the past several years. In 2017, the Delphos, Ohio-based company acquired two wholesale operations: Becker Tire & Treading Inc, which had locations in Kansas, and MotoStar Tire and Auto Parts Inc., which had facilities in New York, New Hampshire and Maine. Last summer, K&M Tire acquired Cadillac Wholesale Tire Inc. in Michigan, which furthered its push into that state.
What’s in store for K&M Tire in 2020? MTD caught up with the distributor’s president, Cheryl Gossard, after the company’s annual meeting, to find out.
“Having systems and processes in place, along with having a very dedicated and committed core team that understands the importance of growing, is how we’ve been able to successfully grow so fast,” she says.
MTD: How many locations do you plan to add in 2020?
Gossard: We have several warehouse moves planned for 2020, where we are moving from a leased facility to one we own. We cannot comment on any additional locations for 2020 at this time.
MTD: Are there strategic geographic gaps that you want to fill, and if so, where are they and why are these areas important to K&M Tire?
Gossard: Any gaps that we have in our current footprint are important for us to fill so we can improve service to our customers. Gaps will be filled when the time is right for us. It is important for us to do the right thing, at the right time – and in the right way.
MTD: What do you look for when evaluating potential acquisitions?
Gossard: There are many things we look for. It could be someone interested in selling their business, because they want to retire in a few years, and they don’t have family or a partner that has either the resources or desire to buy it. It could be someone who no longer feels they are competitive or doesn’t have the systems or infrastructure in place to offer dealers the programs and support they need to be successful in today’s market.
Regardless of the reason they are interested in selling, it is always very important for us to evaluate the culture of the business. Integrity, character, passion and providing a fair deal for everyone are values that we feel both parties must possess to have a successful acquisition.
MTD: With the advent of manufacturer joint venture distribution networks, is there still a place for the independent tire distributor in the U.S.? If so, why?
Gossard: Yes, I do feel there is a place for the independent tire distributor, as long as they continue to change and evolve with automation and new technology.
“There are advantages to independent tire distributors for tire dealers,” she says. “Knowing and having a relationship with the owner of the company, being able to react quickly to requests or to market changes, and being able to relate and know firsthand the struggles they are having are just a few of the advantages” that independent distributors can provide to customers.