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Expand and deliver

Two-thirds of the respondents to our Modern Tire Dealer 100 survey say they plan to increase their store count this year. Two-thirds.

Forget about the recession, or tariffs on Chinese imports. The largest independent tire dealers in the United States are proactively seeking out growth opportunities.

Leading the way is perennial leader Discount Tire Co. Inc. With 775 stores, Discount Tire is number one on the MTD 100.

“We’re planning on reaching 800 by the end of the year,” says Gary Van Brunt, vice chairman.

Earlier this year, Discount Tire celebrated its 50th anniversary in style, with founder and Chairman Bruce Halle hosting a party of 500 people at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Ariz. The company is based in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Eight hundred stores in 50 years averages out to 16 stores a year. The number it opens in just one year is enough to put Discount Tire in a tie for 71st place on our list (for the complete list, see http://www.moderntiredealer.com/Stats/Viewer.aspx?file=http%3a%2f%2fwww.moderntiredealer.com%2ffiles%2fstats%2fMTD-100.pdf.)[PAGEBREAK]

110 stores in one year!

The MTD 100 determines the largest domestic independent tire store chains by counting retail, commercial and combination retail/commercial outlets. Although we include wholesale warehouses in a separate column on our chart, they are not counted in the total number of stores for ranking purposes. Franchises also are not counted unless, as in the case of Big O franchisee Bore/MPC LLC in Columbia, Mo., at least 12 stores are owned.

Discount Tire and Juno Beach, Fla.-based Tire Kingdom Inc., number two on our list with 735 stores, each more than doubles the 353 outlets by the third largest independent tire dealer in the U.S.: Bend, Ore.’s Les Schwab Tire Centers. The fourth place finisher, Monro Muffler Brake Inc., is the most aggressive dealer on the MTD 100.

In the last year, Monro Muffler Brake, based in Rochester, N.Y., increased its tire store count by 110 by purchasing Import Export Tire Co., Cheshire Tire Center Inc., Midwest Tire, Tire Warehouse Central Inc. (21st on our 2009 list) and Autotire Car Care Center. And it is not willing to stand pat at 264 stores. In the company’s financial report following its fiscal year ended March 27, 2010, Chairman and CEO Robert Gross said the company’s tire store acquisitions helped increase comparable store sales growth in the fourth quarter by 11%.

“We remain encouraged by the momentum that we are experiencing in our business, particularly as macro trends in the automotive sector continue to evolve in our favor. We are excited about the opportunities for further market share expansion in fiscal 2011 as we continue to integrate our recent acquisitions into our business and look opportunistically for additional acquisitions in our existing markets.”

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Plans for 2010

Hennelly Tire & Auto Inc. first made the MTD 100 in 2006, when its 12 The Tire Choice & Total Car Care stores tied for 91st place. Four years later, the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based independent tire store chain is one of the fastest-growing in the country, with 28 stores and plans for further growth. It is tied for 41st place on the list.

The 28th Tire Choice & Total Car Care opened in South Tampa last month. It was “an acquired Goodyear location in a very high income market,” according to Chairman and CEO Dan Hennelly. He says three more stores will be opening by the end of the year. “We are back to opening up a new store every six to eight weeks.”

Some of the other top dealers also have growth plans:

 • Jack Williams Tire Co. Inc., Scranton, Pa. (26 stores, 45th on the MTD 100), is eyeing additional retail and wholesale locations.

• Grismer Tire Co., Dayton, Ohio (24 stores, 49th), is constructing its fifth store in the Columbus, Ohio, area, according to Vice President John Marshall.

• Ziegler Tire & Supply Co., Massillon, Ohio (18 stores, 64th), will look at expanding “as the economy improves.”

• Evans Tire & Service Center Inc., Carlsbad, Calif. (17 stores, 67th), wants to add outlets and increase its market share in metropolitan San Diego.

• Morpheus Investments dba Tire Works Total Car Care, Las Vegas, Nev. (13 stores, 83rd), will open its 14th outlet, in Warm Springs, Nev., within the next month.  

When asked, “Do you plan to add or drop a tire brand in 2010?” two thirds of the respondents to the MTD 100 survey answered “yes.” Of those, 50% said they were planning to add a brand; more than 40% answered “both.”     ■

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