JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-The owner of a Michigan tire dealership has acquired Jacksonville-based Automotive Industries Inc., creating one of the largest independent retail tire operations in North America. Acorn Venture Capital Corp. of New York, a publicly held business development company, bought all the outstanding shares of Automotive Industries from General Tire, the majority owner, and other minority shareholders for an undisclosed amount on Dec. 22.
Automotive Industries operates 27 stores in Florida and Georgia under the names: Jim Martin Tire, Wall Tire Distributors, Mott Tire, Kehoe Tire and Daytona Discount Tire. It tallied an estimated $19 million in sales in 1993.
Acorn was formed in 1986 and claims about $13 million in net assets with the purchase of Automotive Industries. In addition to two dealerships, the company also owns two businesses involved with computers and semi-conductors. The company has stated that its purpose is to ``obtain controlling interests in emerging companies.''
Orland Wolford, one of the former minority owners of Automotive Industries and its president and CEO since 1989, will continue in his position, as well as head Acorn's 27 ServiceMax Tire and Auto Centers in Flint, Mich.
ServiceMax was formed in June 1992, acquiring outlets in Flint, Grand Rapids and Saginaw, Mich., formerly operated by Action Auto, Acorn President Stephen Ollendorff said. The young dealership garnered an estimated $10 million to $12 million in sales last year.
With a combined total of 54 stores, ServiceMax and Automotive Industries would rank as the 18th-largest independently owned retail tire dealership in North America, based on total number of outlets, and 14th based on the number of company-owned outlets, according to TIRE BUSINESS' 1993 rankings.
In TIRE BUSINESS's 1990 ranking, Automotive Industries had ranked as the 19th-largest independent retail dealership in total outlets. But the company filed for bankruptcy in September 1989 and under a reorganization plan, General acquired majority interest in the dealership in February 1991.
Bill King, executive vice president of Automotive Industries, said Mr. Wolford negotiated for the latest sale of the dealership in order to put the Automotive Industries executives ``in the driver's seat.''
For their part, General officials said the decision to sell was ``basically a natural extension of our business plan that when Automotive Industries reached a point when it could stand on its own as a viable entity, we would sell our equity (in the company).''
Automotive Industries had its most profitable year last year, Mr. King said. Its outlets offer an even mix of tires and automotive service-a mix the management plans to carry over to the ServiceMax stores, which currently concentrate on automotive service with some over-the-counter parts and tire sales.
Mr. King said the company would like the Michigan stores to expand their tire business and become a more ``typical'' tire dealership.