TUCSON, Ariz. — Two years ago, GB Auto Service was a non-entity in the U.S. tire scene.
Today it's the 10th largest retail tire and auto service dealership in the U.S., with 116 outlets spread among four states.
GB Auto Service is part of Greenbriar Equity Group L.P., a Rye, N.Y.-based private equity firm with holdings in the transportation and related sectors.
While the company's first acquisition in the automotive aftermarket — Brake Max Car Care Centers of Arizona — was in 2017, the group began evaluating the sector for investment possibilities in 2015 when it hired David Dyckman, a former American Tire Distributors Inc. (ATD) executive, who was tasked with evaluating potential investment opportunities.
- This story appears in the Oct. 28 print edition of Tire Business.
Mr. Dyckman spent nine years at ATD, starting as chief financial officer in 2006 and advancing to executive vice president and COO by 2012, before being recruited by Greenbriar, which was an ATD investor prior to 2010.
Since that first acquisition, Greenbriar has accumulated six more assets in the sector — California's Ramona Tire Inc. (17 stores); Nevada-based Tire Works Total Car Care (15 stores); Evans Tire & Service Centers Inc. of San Diego (17 stores); Lamb's Tire & Automotive Centers of Austin, Texas (18); Driver's Edge Complete Tire & Automotive of Dallas/Forth Worth (11); and Wilhelm Automotive & Tire of greater Phoenix (11).
Greenbriar has not disclosed its investment in any of the purchases, but in general the company targets companies with enterprise values ranging from $100 million to $1 billion or more and invests $75 million to $150 million of equity capital in each transaction.
As for the firm's vision moving forward, Frank Kneller, CEO of GB Auto Service since late last year, said Greenbriar believes the DIFM (do it for me) segment of the aftermarket is a large and growing market with "favorable secular trends and cycle-resistant characteristics."
Bearing this in mind, Mr. Kneller said Greenbriar feels that great managers who are supported by the benefits of a larger platform can drive "attractive and repeatable store results." Thus Greenbriar's strategy is to assemble a "pool of talent that we feel is unmatched."