Published on April 29, 2013

Squeaky-clean operation

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COPLEY, Ohio—When Conrad's Tire Service Inc. opened its 34th retail store, in Copley, in early April, the dealership had enough property to add a new profit center to the operation—an automated car wash.

The newly built location, in a suburb west of Akron, features nine service bays and an adjoining 24-hour LaserWash automated car wash along with a self-serve car vacuum island.

This is the first car wash installed in a Conrad's location, according to Pat Tumino, fixed assets manager for the Cleveland-based dealership. He said a car wash is not something Conrad's can add to its other locations due to space restrictions or nearby competing car washes.

“This is something we wanted to do for years. And in Copley it all made sense in that it was a big enough property, there was not any car washes in the general vicinity, and it seemed to be one that made sense for us,” Mr. Tumino told Tire Business.

The car wash is a separate service that acts as a profit center, he said. “Primarily it's to provide a service for our customers. They can come in, get their car done and maybe they're done with their oil change, they can get their car washed.

“And then, obviously, they would need their car washed more often than they need servicing on their car, so we're hoping that they get familiar with where we're at and continue to come through and use that service.”

The dealership will be evaluating the benefits of the carwash along with two new tools the company purchased for the new store.

Mr. Tumino said Conrad's is testing a Hunter Engineering Co. pedestal tire changer at the Copley shop.

“We're trying to see if this is a machine that makes sense for us with the changes we're seeing in the tire industry, with the lower profile tires and rims and just the need to be much more careful and precise when it comes to mounting tires on customers' wheels.”

Conrad's also purchased two of the new OTC Genesis Touch engine diagnostic scan tools for its Copley store and another location “because we wanted to see if this is a scan tool that's going to work for us moving forward,” Mr. Tumino said.

“One of the reasons we're giving that one a try is that it does have the capabilities to do some reprogramming.... We want the guys in our stores to have the capability to do that.”

All Conrad's retail locations offer full automotive service, which accounts for about 53 percent of the dealership's retail sales. Mr. Tumino estimated that diagnostic and repair services account for 33 percent of the total business.

The Copley location is one of five Conrad's shops in the Akron area, with the rest in the Cleveland area. The dealership is looking at other sites to build additional stores in its existing markets in Northeast Ohio, he said.

All new builds are designed with nine bays, according to Mr. Tumino. Other existing locations the dealership acquired range in size from seven to 12 bays, but nine bays for the new builds seemed to be a size “that makes the most sense,” he said.

The company looks at the Greater Cleveland/Akron area as one contiguous market, Dominic Umek, Conrad's general manager, told Tire Business in a report last October.

Retail comprises about 81 percent of Conrad's operations with the remainder in wholesale, he said. The company is a Goodyear-aligned dealership with John Turk as its president and CEO.

For the new Copley store, Mr. Umek said in the earlier story that the dealership had been “looking for eight years to get a store there in that location.” A lot depends on factors including what city zoning is, land availability, how agreeable a developer is, and what potential a site has for development, he explained.



To reach this reporter: kmccarron@crain.com; 330-865-6127.

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