The country’s largest independent commercial tire dealership has just gotten bigger. Midwestern commercial/retail juggernaut Best-One Tire & Service has acquired four Easter Tire & Retreading Inc. commercial tire outlets in northwest Ohio.
The transaction opens a new market for Best-One, whose base of operation is in Monroe, Ind., says Pete Glesing, Best-One’s director of commercial development.
“We had truck tire centers that serviced the northwest Ohio market... but I would say it was an open market for us. This acquisition gives us servicing truck tire centers in that area.”
The locations are located in Lima, Bryan, Findlay and Coldwater, Ohio. The Lima location includes a Bandag retread plant that produces 144 medium truck and 15 light truck tire retreads per day, according to Modern Tire Dealer research. With the addition of that shop, Best-One now has 18 retread plants.
As with its other retread plants, Best-One would like to boost the Lima shop’s production numbers, says Glesing. “We’re always looking for new customers to increase the retreading at our plants.”
Based in Lima, “where the bulk of their commercial business was,” Easter Tire was privately owned by the Emans family. (Kurt Emans was its chief officer.)
“We’ve known the family and have had ongoing discussions with them for many years,” says Glesing. “They’ve had a long history of serving the commercial customer. It was a win-win and we put it together.”
Best-One has 52 commercial-only outlets and more than 120 combined commercial/retail outlets. The dealership generated $230 million in sales in 2008.
The Easter Tire acquisition was in line with Best-One’s long-term growth strategy, says Glesing.
“We are continuing to look at dealers who want to join our organization. As you know, the market has changed. There are fewer and fewer independents. So you grow two ways: one, you have new start-ups, and you have to make sure you see a lot of things clearly from there.”
The other option, he says, is buying into an existing dealership, which has proven to be a very successful strategy for Best-One. “If you’re going to partner with a dealer, you have to have a number of things lined up to make sure you’re successful. We’ve been fortunate in that our model has worked over the years.”
Best-One —primarily a Midwestern institution with a few locations in Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina — is eyeing the Northeastern U.S. for expansion. “We’re looking to have some start-ups in the near future.”
Looking ahead to 2010, Glesing believes the market will show signs of recovery, “though how much, I’m not sure. We’ve talked to some of our fleet customers and their tonnage and miles are up. Even some of our customers who are involved in (construction), like concrete companies, report that while it’s not stellar, they’re seeing a slow comeback. Maybe I’m just a glass-is-half-full guy, but I think starting the second quarter of next year it’s going to pick up some momentum.” ■
Slight recovery: Shipments will be up next year, but not by much
Any way you slice it, this has been a tough year for medium/wide-base/heavy on-highway truck tires. On the original equipment side, shipments are expected to decline nearly 41% to 2.3 million units this year, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA). Meanwhile, replacement units are expected to fall more than 2.3 million units to nearly 12.6 million units.
However, things are looking up in 2010, albeit slightly. The RMA believes OE truck tire shipments will increase by 500,000 units next year. Replacement units are expected to increase by less than one million to nearly 13 million in total. Gains will be modest “given the uneven economic rebound forecast for 2010,” say RMA officials.