ALLEN PARK, Mich.-Belle Tire Distributors of Allen Park has bought out its metro Detroit rival, Tireman Inc. of Royal Oak, Mich. The merged operation, now consisting of 31 retail locations, creates the largest independently owned tire retailer in the metropolitan Detroit area, according to Don Barnes Jr., Belle Tire co-owner, president and COO.
Mr. Barnes owns the dealership with his brother, Bob Barnes, CEO, and Dan Light, CFO.
The acquisition, finalized Dec. 18, merges Belle Tire's 17 locations with 14 Tireman retail outlets in the Detroit market.
Additionally, Belle Tire operates a wholesale and commercial divi-sion. The dealership's outlets are concentrated in the Detroit metro area, except for two stores in Grand Rapids, Mich., and one each in Fort Huron, Mich., and Toledo, Ohio.
Tireman's former owners will remain with the firm for 90 days to ease the transition into new ownership, Mr. Barnes said. He declined to release the terms of the deal or to discuss how the acquisition initiated.
Tireman's former owners could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Barnes noted that part of the rationale behind the buyout lay in the fact that the former Tireman outlets were in desirable locations for Belle Tire expansion.
``We don't plan on closing any stores. They weren't one on top of another,'' he said. ``One of the reasons we were interested (in the acquisition) was that they were not close to each other.'' He estimated the closest distance between stores at three miles.
The company has yet to decide what name the new outlets will operate under, Mr. Barnes said.
The 14 former Tireman locations all will join the American Car Care Centers dealer buying and marketing association. Belle Tire had previously joined ACCC, which now consists of more than 850 dealerships across the U.S.
Mr. Barnes said most of the changes planned for the Tireman outlets will revolve around automotive services.
``Our stores were stronger in automotive service, so we hope to expand the automotive repair service of the Tireman stores over the next couple of years,'' he said.