Morgan prepares for life after Tires Plus

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When Larry Morgan told his associates in Clearwater, Fla., yesterday that he was stepping down from day-to-day operations at Morgan Tire & Auto Inc., he almost choked up a couple of times.

"If I didn't have a lot of other interests in life, I'd probably be saddened," he told Modern Tire Dealer. "I feel like things are in good hands, and I'm still going to be involved in the bigger picture, so to speak."

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

He says Tires Plus franchising is one area in which he will continue to be active in order to complete some unfinished business plans. To that end, he will work closely with Bridgestone/Firestone Retail & Commercial Operations LLC's Nick Capretta, Director of Franchise Operations Alex Kolosiwsky and Director of Franchise Development John Hyduke.

Morgan sold controlling interest in Morgan Tire to Bridgestone/Firestone (BFS) last year, although the deal was actually struck back in 1998, when BFS became a minority stockholder in the company. He retained 48% ownership in Morgan Tire, with the proviso that BFS would buy him out completely over time.

Morgan Tire oversees 549 stores, most (and eventually all) doing business as Tires Plus. The franchise operation has signed up 66 franchisees.

The operation will continue to be run independently of Bridgestone/Firestone's other company-owned stores, with some non-BFS brands in their mix, according to Morgan. The support center will remain in Clearwater, Fla.

Bridgestone/Firestone has more than 2,200 company-owned stores nationwide, including the Tires Plus chain.

Morgan now has time for two other goals: to help the Tire Industry Association (TIA) "bring value to our industry" (he will become president of TIA at the 2003 International Tire Expo in Las Vegas, Nev.), and assist in his son Brett's entrepreneurial interests.

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