Larry Morgan relinquishes day-to-day control of Tires Plus chain

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Larry Morgan, Modern Tire Dealer's 2001 Tire Dealer of the Year, has relinquished the chairman and CEO duties for Morgan Tire & Auto Inc. (MTA).

Running the day-to-day operations of Morgan Tire as CEO and president will be Stu Watterson, a 32-year Bridgestone/Firestone veteran. He was most recently vice president of Bridgestone/Firestone Retail & Commercial Operations LLC (BFRC).

Morgan will remain as an executive with the company and will remain on the board of directors as chairman emeritus.

Last fall, Morgan sold controlling interest in Morgan Tire, which at the time owned 558 independent tire outlets. He retained 48% ownership.

Since that time, Morgan has been consolidating the dealerships under the Tires Plus name. Most of the current 549 stores have been renamed.

Morgan still ran Tires Plus under last year's sales agreement. His contract was set to run through 2008, with Bridgestone/Firestone eventually buying out his remaining ownership.

Morgan told the company that his decision was based upon a desire to become more actively involved in strategic issues faced by the newly established Tire Industry Association (TIA) as well as his desire to assist in his son's entrepreneurial interests.

"I have a 37-year history with Firestone, first as an employee and then as a customer," says Morgan. "This company is like a part of my family and I wouldn't leave it in the hands of just anyone.

"I am very confident in our parent company and its ability to do great things. BFRC brings a vast retail infrastructure, which can greatly benefit both MTA's company owned stores and Tires Plus franchises.

"While my other personal endeavors prevent me from devoting the amount of time and energy necessary to running the company on a daily basis, it continues to be exciting and challenging for me to serve on MTA's board with others who also have a vested interest in MTA's success."

"Larry Morgan is an icon in the tire industry and built MTA to its current position of 549 stores in just over 10 years," says Larry Magee, chairman, CEO and president of BFRC. "We will miss his day-to-day leadership but are pleased he will continue as a member of the MTA board of directors.

"We look forward to Larry's continued leadership and oversight." Magee will take over as chairman of Morgan Tire.

According to Bridgestone/Firestone, MTA is an integral part of the Bridgestone/Firestone family channel, which includes independent dealers, retailers and more than 2,200 company-owned stores.

MTA will continue to operate as a majority owned subsidiary of BFRC and will maintain its multi-brand retail concept selling Bridgestone, Firestone as well as other major brands.

Morgan Tire & Auto runs 549 Tires Plus locations in 25 states, employing approximately 6,000 people.

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