Tire Warehouse Keene, N.H.
Despite a difficult economic climate within its New England marketing area, Tire Warehouse Central Inc. managed a 3.5-percent increase in retail sales in 1994 and added another retail outlet, according to corporate Treasurer Robert A. Dabrowski. Norman B. Harper is president and CEO.
Mr. Dabrowski described the economic climate simply as ``bad.''
Tire Warehouse Central opened a new company-owned store in Gardner, Mass., giving it a total of 44 retail outlets, 18 of which are franchised operations.
All of the company's outlets do business under the Tire Warehouse banner.
Mr. Dabrowski said the company, which also serves markets in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island, hopes to open an additional six outlets within the next 24 months. The dealership is projecting approximately a 6-percent increase in retail sales during 1995, Mr. Dabrowski said.
Tires account for about 90 percent of its retail sales, Mr. Dabrowski said. The company sells Goodyear, Pirelli, BFGoodrich, Michelin, Uni-royal, Dean, Regul, Star and Armstrong brand tires.
During the past year, Tire Warehouse has also been emphasizing wheel sales, according to Mr. Dabrowski.
The company also operates 24 auto parts outlets and a distribution center serving all of New England.
Recently, Tire Warehouse joined with six other large retail dealerships to form Tire Alliance Groupe Inc. to help lower costs.
Sherwood Park, Alberta
Tirecraft Auto Centers Ltd. opened 16 associate stores in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan during the past year for a total of 56 associate stores and 26 company-owned outlets.
Company President David Cosco said the company is focusing on expanding both types of stores which all operate under the Tirecraft name.
Many of the stores are located in rural areas, but as their numbers grow, the company is gettingmore attention from potential associate dealers, according to Mr. Cosco.
While tires sales are still the company's primary business, Tirecraft introduced a new written warranty program for mechanical service and launched its own ``Tirecraft'' battery line this year.
And with some ``fairly extensive market research,'' the dealership began a television ad campaign, its first major TV project in five years.
The ads are airing during the Canadian Football League games.
With 65 company-owned and franchise stores in its stable, Tires Plus Groupe Ltd. plans to open about six more by the end of the year and expects to add another 20 next year.
The dealership's 42 company-owned outlets are primarily located in large and medium-size markets while the 23 franchise stores are located in smaller, rural markets.
While the dealership is developing its automotive service base-offering alignments, brakes, shocks and struts work-it won't be at the expense of its tire sales, which account for about 70 percent of business, according to Tom Gegax, Tires Plus founder, president and CEO.
To better compete in the major markets, Tires Plus has started implementing a guest call-back program and a ``guest enthusiasm index'' to register customer satisfaction and has installed a data base marketing program.
The dealership also is participating in the newly organized Tire Alliance Groupe Inc. (TAG) with six other large independent tire dealerships.
So far, Mr. Gegax said he has seen ``tremendous'' benefits with the alliance and expects the buying group to help lower his own company's acquisition costs and other business expenses in the coming year.
Town Fair Tire
East Haven, Conn.
With three new stores, one in each of three states, Town Fair Tire Centers Inc. boosted its sales to $43 million last year, from $42 million in 1993.
The company operates 40 outlets in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, concentrating on tire sales and service and alignments. The company sells a variety of tire brands.
The dealership is eyeing expansion within its existing markets.
Despite increased competition and economic uncertainty in Quebec, Unimax Tire Ltd. opened two outlets this year for a total of 70 franchised outlets in the province.
The franchiser has been expanding in Quebec slowly, according to Unimax's general manager Alain Forest, usually signing existing stores as franchisees.
The company has also launched a new advertising campaign in Quebec, which begins with the airing of radio ads this fall and continuing through next year with the addition of television commercials.
Consumers, however, are not confident in the economy and have reduced their spending, Mr. Forest has observed.
So while the tire business has been good, Mr. Forest said, margins are more difficult to maintain.
However, the dealership avoids competing on price with its competitors, he said.
``We tell our dealers: `Don't try to compete on price because you'll never be the lowest one. Rather, compete on service or something else,' '' he said.
Errol Guay of Le Pneu Guay in Jonquiere, Quebec, is serving a two-year term as president of the franchise organization.