NAUGATUCK, Conn.-The plainly stated aim of Ford Motor Co.'s Auto Care project is to shanghai business away from independent repair shops. But at least one of those potential victims is peacefully coexisting with ``the enemy.''
Richard S. Holland, owner and president of Tire Pro Inc. in Naugatuck, is a scant two miles from Dick and Steve Shaker's Auto Care operation.
Yet the independent tire dealer told TIRE BUSINESS: ``They're fine-they run an excellent operation. They're an old-line Ford dealership family in the area, and this is a new type of venture for them. But they certainly don't affect us.''
Actually, Auto Care has been a help to Tire Pro ``on the occasion that we need original equipment Ford parts,'' he said. (In addition to automotive service, Auto Care outlets stock a limited supply of fast-moving auto parts.)
As its name indicates, Tire Pro's primary business is tires, with about 40 percent of its work mechanical-alignment, steering, suspension and undercar. It handles passenger and light truck tires, and some medium truck and related commercial services, with a principal tire lineup that includes Kelly-Springfield, BFGoodrich, and Mastercraft.
Mr. Holland doesn't think he's lost much, if any, mechanical business to Auto Care. ``If anything, there's been a mutual referral. On occasion when they've had tire situations which have not been within the realm of what they do, they have referred them to us.
``They haven't been a detriment to us, and have actually been a positive factor.''
While Mr. Holland holds no great fear of Auto Care, there are other more direct challenges-New England's Town Fair Tire, for instance.
``They have a real good program,'' he said. ``They are the competition, and everyone else competes against them.''
Tire Pro's business has been ``mediocre'' and ``fairly flat'' throughout this year, Mr. Holland reported. ``Winter was poor, spring didn't develop, and summer was flat and did not really pick up.
``No one's too excited in this state, at the moment.''