Sun Auto Tire Gets New Majority Investor and CEO

Sept. 16, 2021

Los Angeles, Calif.-based private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners is now a majority investor in Sun Auto Tire & Service. Tony Puckett will join Sun Auto as the company's new CEO, replacing Frank Kneller, who has stepped down to "pursue other opportunities," according to a statement from Sun Auto.

Greenbriar Equity Group L.P., Sun Auto Tire's longtime owners, will remain a shareholder in the company.

"The Leonard Green team members are extremely experienced investors in the automotive aftermarket space, with many success stories, including Mister Car Wash. In addition, this team was the group that grew Caliber Collision into what is now the largest provider of collision repair services in the country.

"Leonard Green sees this as an exciting opportunity to help continue to support our future growth."

Puckett "has had an incredibly accomplished career with Valvoline for 35 years, most recently as the head of their Quick Lube division, where he oversaw the growth of that business from 900 to 1,500 locations. Tony has the right combination of aftermarket experience and business-building expertise to take Sun to the next level."

Kneller, whom MTD interviewed this past July, will remain with Sun Auto Tire through the transition.

"We are pleased to welcome Leonard Green & Partners as a majority Sun Auto Tire & Service investor," says Jeffry Gardner, marketing vice president for Sun Auto Tire.

"We look forward to collaborating with our new partners and continuing on the growth path we've established."

Over the years, Sun Auto Tire, which was previously known as GB Auto Service Inc., has acquired a number of independent tire dealerships. 

In March 2021, the company acquired Goodguys Tires & Auto Repair, an eight-store chain based in Fresno, Calif.

Other properties include BrakeMax Tire & Service Centers, Driver's Edge, Evans Tire & Service Centers, Lamb's Tire & Automotive Centers, Louetta Automotive, Ramona Tire, Reliable Automotive, Sun Auto Service, Sun Devil Auto Service, Tate Boys Tire & Service, Tire Works Total Car Care and Wilhelm Automotive.

Headquartered in Tucson, Ariz., Sun Auto Tire is the sixth largest dealership on the 2021 MTD 100. It operates 200 stores.

Founded in 1989, Leonard Green & Partners holds more than $500 billion in assets under its management, according to the firm's website. Since its inception, Leonard Green & Partners has invested in more than 100 companies.