Acquisitions Help Fuel Southern Tire Mart's Growth

April 7, 2023

Southern Tire Mart LLC's recent purchase of Friend Tire Co. is the latest in a series of key acquisitions made by the country's largest commercial tire dealership.

The Columbia, Miss.-based company - which is owned by Jim and Tommy Duff, MTD's Tire Dealer of the Year Award recipients in 2021 - acquired Friend Tire from Yokohama Tire Corp. on April 1.

The deal gives Southern Tire Mart nine more distribution centers, located in Albuquerque, N.M.; Memphis, Tenn.; Belton, Texas; Davenport, Fla.; Monett, Mo.; St. Charles, Mo.; Shreveport, La.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; and Salt Lake City, Utah. 

All are now operating as Southern Tire Mart outlets.

Last year, Southern Tire Mart expanded its footprint by nearly 40 locations via the acquisitions of Phoenix, Ariz.-based Redburn Tire Co. and 26 Bridgestone Americas Inc.-owned GCR Tires & Service locations.

The GCR acquisitions were in Utah, Nevada, Colorado and California. (Southern Tire Mart entered the southern California market in 2021.)

The Redburn acquisition included 12 locations in Phoenix, Mesa, Tucson, Flagstaff, Prescott Valley, Yuma and Kingman, Ariz.; Albuquerque and Farmington, N.M.; Greeley and Commerce City, Colo; and a newer outlet near El Paso, Texas.

Over the last several years, Southern Tire Mart has been one of the most prolific acquirers of Bridgestone-owned GCR locations.

In early-2019, the company acquired 46 GCR locations and six GCR retread plants from Bridgestone.

The GCR stores and retread plants were located  in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, the Florida Panhandle, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Nevada, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia. 

“The purchase of these GCR locations allows us to expand our footprint in the southern U.S., while also bringing more knowledge and expertise to our team," Jim and Tommy Duff said at the time.

In September 2021, MTD, John Boynton, a longtime Bridgestone executive who had joined Southern Tire Mart in 2018, said the dealership integrated the newly acquired GCR locations and plants within a year of acquiring them.

"The minute the CGR thing was announced, we were on planes and traveled to every single GCR location," Keven Haddox, who oversees Southern Tire Mart's business west of the Mississippi River, told MTD. 

Southern Tire Mart, he said, had competed directly with some of the GCR outlets it had acquired. "We sat down with people and said how excited we were to work with them."

The 2019 GCR transaction boosted Southern Tire Mart's store count by more than 50%.

"I remember when we were working on the GCR acquisition - knowing it was going to be a big undertaking - I mentioned to Jim and Tommy that we needed to start thinking about building up our support structure so these stores could be assimilated faster," said Boynton. "I asked, 'How are you going to manage this thing?'"

Boynton recalled that Tommy Duff told him, "By being true to what brought us here."

Strategic alliances also have driven Southern Tire Mart's growth.

In January 2021, the dealership announced it had formed an alliance with Pilot Flying J, the largest truck stop chain in the U.S.

The venture, Southern Tire Mart at Pilot Flying J, is a "natural extension" of Southern Tire Mart's traditional operation, Boynton told MTD.

It pushes the Southern Tire Mart brand into new geographies with the goal of providing fleets with a consistent service experience.

"We think that's where the market is moving and (where) the customer base is moving," he noted. "They're saying, 'I don't want to do this with 20 different service providers. I want to do this with one or maybe two."

When the alliance with Pilot Flying J was announced, Southern Tire Mart said it wanted to open 200 Southern Tire Mart at Pilot Flying J outlets within 36 months.

"We have to move very, very fast," Boynton told MTD in 2021. "The goal is to create that network. And Tommy and Jim want us to move at the speed that's needed to get these stores up and running very quickly."

About the Author

Mike Manges | Editor

Mike Manges is Modern Tire Dealer’s editor. A 25-year tire industry veteran, he is a three-time International Automotive Media Association award winner and holds a Gold Award from the Association of Automotive Publication Editors. Mike has traveled the world in pursuit of stories that will help independent tire dealers move their businesses forward. Before rejoining MTD in September 2019, he held corporate communications positions at two Fortune 500 companies and served as MTD’s senior editor from 2000 to 2010.