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Expansion is the name of the game among the top tire store chains: Acquisitions help Tire Kingdom move into the number one spot

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Expansion is the name of the game among the top tire store chains: Acquisitions help Tire Kingdom move into the number one spot

Buying, remodeling, upgrading, moving, repositioning, looking for acquisitions -- these are the recurring themes we heard when speaking with the top independent tire dealers.

Not one of them is sitting still. They are constantly improving and searching for new markets, perfect-fit acquisitions and new opportunities. Their strategies obviously are working, especially among the largest tire dealers.

Taking over the number one spot in our "Top 100 independent tire store chains" list this year with 600 locations is Tire Kingdom Inc. of Riviera Beach, Fla. Tire Kingdom moved to the head of the list when its parent company, TBC Corp., acquired the 226-store National Tire and Battery (NTB) chain from Sears, Roebuck & Co. late last year. TBC paid approximately $225 million for the struggling NTB chain and integrated the outlets into its Tire Kingdom retail chain.

Due to the acquisitions by TBC Corp., Discount Tire Co. Inc., based in Scottsdale, Ariz., drops to second place on our list with 530 outlets. Its latest two outlets are being built in the Winston-Salem, N.C., market.

Over the last year, Discount Tire also opened outlets in Columbia, S.C.; Gulfport, Miss.; Tallahassee and Bonita Springs, Fla.; Asheville, N.C.; Woodbridge, Va.; Brimfield, Columbus and Miamisburg, Ohio; Augusta, Ga.; Ocean Springs and D´lberville, Miss.; and Greenville, S.C., among others.

Here´s what many of the other top dealers in the United States and Canada are accomplishing and planning for the next 12 months.

* In February, Monro Muffler Brake Inc. signed an agreement to acquire 36 Mr. Tire Inc. locations in Maryland and Virginia. The transaction involves 26 tire outlets and 10 kiosks located in auto dealerships affiliated with Mr. Tire´s parent company, Mile One Automotive. "The stores and kiosks we are acquiring generated approximately $50 million in sales last year," says Monro CEO and President Robert G. Gross. Monro has no plans to close any Mr. Tire locations, which will continue to operate under the Mr. Tire name. Monro also owns and operates 24 Kimmel Tire & Auto Centers stores and several Tread Quarters outlets in the region.

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* Dunlap & Kyle Co. Inc., headquartered in Batesville, Miss., reports it recently completed an 185,000-square-foot addition to its warehouse. It plans to open two new stores this year.

* Norwell, Mass.-based Sullivan Tire Co. Inc. opened a 30,000-square-foot combination retail store/warehouse in Scarborough, Maine, in April. Prior to that it opened a retail outlet in Marshfield, Mass., and an outlet in Bedford, N.H.

* VIP Discount Auto Centers of Lewiston, Maine, says it opened three new stores in Lewiston, Topsham and Mexico, Maine, and one in Watertown, Mass., during the past year. It plans to open three to five new stores in New Hampshire and Massachusetts over the next 12 months.

* Kauffman Tire Inc. of Atlanta, Ga., bought Ravenna (Ohio) Tire and Orwell (Ohio) Tire.

The company is looking at other opportunities, says Sullivan Tire spokesman Paul Sullivan.

* Tirecraft Auto Centers Ltd. of Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, signed on 15 new stores and acquired one new corporate commercial location (Duall Tire Service). The company also implemented an extensive internal branding initiative.

 

* Everybody´s Oil Corp., dba Tire Barn of Anderson, Ind., reports it added two stores over the year in eastern Tennessee and plans two new stores during the coming 12 months as well as two store rebuilds.

* Dobbs Tire & Auto Centers Inc. of High Ridge, Mo., reports it opened two new locations during the past 12 months. "Our Shiloh, Ill., store is a 10-bay facility with two quick lube bays, and is our new prototype," says David Dobbs, president. "Our Wentzville, Ill., store opened last November. The fire-damaged Yorkshire location reopened in April and is doing very well. No lost customers due to going dark for approximately one year. We´re very happy!" As for the next 12 months, the company plans new facilities in the "metro east" market. "We are also updating two of our older stores."

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* Tire Discounters Inc. of Cincinnati, Ohio, is planning on adding two new stores this year, according to Chip Wood, president.

* Ben Tire Distributors of Toledo, Ill., reports it plans to add two new retail outlets over the next year.

* Scher Tire Inc. of Riverside, Calif., bought eight Superior Tire outlets in Las Vegas.

* Rent-A-Wheel/Rent-A-Tire of Van Nuys, Calif., reports it opened a new store in Corpus Christie, Texas, and plans to add nine more stores before the end of this year, says John Bowlin, president.

* Tire-Rama Inc. of Billings, Mont., purchased Bakke Tire Service, adding four stores to its fold. Three stores are in Missoula and one in Hamilton, Mont. It also acquired an additional store in Sheridan, Wyo., its first store in that state.

* Dunn Tire LLC of Cheektowaga, N.Y., reports it added Remington to its wholesale business and launched a new Web site -- www.dunntire.com. It is anticipating adding additional retail locations, and expects increased growth in its wholesale business, according to Randy Clark, chairman.

* T.O. Haas Tire Co. Inc. in Lincoln, Neb., just re-opened two remodeled facilities in Lincoln and Medicine Lodge, Kan.

* Tire Warehouse Central Inc. of Keene, N.H., reports it opened stores in Exeter, Goffstown and Littleton, N.H., and Brewer, Maine, over the last 12 months.

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* Mountain View Tire of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., opened a store in Chino, Calif., (formerly AST Firestone), and one in Signal Hill, Calif., (formerly Long Beach Tire & Brake). It reports it opened its 27th store in Camarillo, Calif. Plus, "We have four (new outlets) at various stages of construction," says Chris Mitsos, vice president. The company had previously sold 17 Superior Tire outlets in the Las Vegas, Nev., area to Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and TBC Corp. Goodyear held onto nine and eventually closed one of them; TBC turned eight into Big O franchises.

* American Tire Depot of Irwindale, Calif., plans to open two new stores during the coming year, according to Ara Tchaghlassian, president.

* Fletcher´s Tire & Auto Service Inc. in Phoenix, Ariz., reports it will open 14 stores by 2006 between Phoenix and Tuscon, according to Jerry Fletcher, president.

* Commercial Tire Inc. of Meridian, Idaho, moved its warehouse and corporate office from Boise to Meridian, Idaho, and added four locations during the last 12 months. Its plans call for one to two new locations this year, according to Bob Schwenkfelder, president and general manager.

* Coast Tire & Auto Service Ltd., based in St. John, New Brunswick, plans to expand by two to three more outlets over the next year.

* Andy Martino, president of Martino Tire Co. of Miami, Fla., reports his company opened one retail store in January and is currently working on a six- to eight-store expansion.

* John McCarthy, chairman and CEO of McCarthy Tire Service Inc. in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., reports, "We have a couple of (acquisitions) we´re working on."

* White Tire Distributors Inc. of Roanoke, Va., opened a Bandag retread plant in Newport News, Va. It also purchased the assets of Volunteer Bandag in Greenville, Tenn., and merged it with its existing operations in Kingsport, Va.

* Autotire Car Care Centers of St. Louis, Mo., says it added a new store in Chesterfield, Mo., and plans to open a new store in Arnold, Mo., and a new wholesale center in St. Peters, Mo.

* Paul Weaver, president of Southern Indiana Tire Inc. of Princeton, Ind., says, sales have increased quite a bit. "We will open a location in Cape Giradeau, Mo., in September that will include a retread shop."

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* Jack Williams Tire in Moosic, Pa., reports it opened a Tire Express store and two high performance centers over the last year. In February, it bought Auto Additions in Allentown, Pa., an auto performance shop specializing in high performance tires, wheels, exhaust and suspension parts and related accessories. It says three new retail locations are now under construction.

* Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Graham Tire Co. will relocate its store in Yankton, S.D., to a larger, more modern facility in the town this fall. The new location will contain a drive-through commercial bay. It should be open by November.

* Certified Tire & Service Centers, headquartered in Moreno Valley, Calif., opened stores in Santa Ana and Buena Park, Calif., and plans to open a new store in Victorville, Calif., this fall.

* In May, S&S Tire, founded in 1974 by Paul Swentzel and Don Schneider in Lexington, Ky., celebrated its 30th anniversary (see Parting Shot, June Modern Tire Dealer).

* Last year, Fountain Tire of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, was awarded "Platinum Status" as part of Canada´s 50 Best Managed Company Awards program. "Platinum Club status is the ultimate compliment to Fountain Tire because it demonstrates the strength and sustainability of our partnerships, which are major contributors to our success," says Fountain Tire President Brent Hesje.

* Service Tire Truck Centers of Bethlehem, Pa., reports it opened two locations in Maryland over the last 12 months and is looking at expanding in two marketing areas with the possibility of opening at least two new locations in the coming year.

* In April, Snider Tire of Greensboro, N.C., signed a letter of intent to acquire WNC Tire Inc. of Asheville, N.C. WNC Tire operates one tire store plus a Bandag retread plant.

* Allen Tire Co. headquartered in Lakewood, Calif., says it has opened two new locations and added the Toyo line since last year at this time.

* Warren Tire Service Center Inc., headquartered in Queensbury, N.Y., opened a 14-bay "super center" and purchased another four-bay location. It plans to build another new eight-bay store and a two-bay automatic car wash, and purchase a Jiffy Lube. It also is considering taking over a truck stop and looking for property in the Albany area.

* This is the last year you´ll see David Early Tire Co. on our list. BFS Retail & Commercial Operations LLC, a subsidiary of Bridgetone Americas, acquired the assets of the Salt Lake City, Utah, company. BFS is expected to convert at least some of the dealership´s 18 outlets to Firestone Tire & Service Centers.

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* Black´s Tire Service/BTS Tire & Wheel Distributors of Whiteville, N.C., says it created a new wholesale division -- BTS Tire & Wheel Distributors -- with distribution centers in Whiteville and Monroe, N.C. Ricky Benton, president, says the company is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

* Ken Towery´s Auto Care in Louisville, Ky., plans to open one new store in the next 12 months.

* Valley Tire Co. Inc. in Charleroi, Pa., reports it bought a location in Erie, Pa., and moved an existing Valley Tire location into that store. It also closed its retread plant.

* Great American Tire of Greenwood Village, Colo., reports it will open its 16th store next month.

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