ERLANGER, Ky.-Bob Sumerel said he and his two sons, Todd and Craig, love the tire business. They should. Their Bob Sumerel Tire Co. is expanding by leaps and bounds.
The Erlanger-based firm bought Columbus General Tire Sales Co., a retail/commercial dealership with five locations in the Columbus, Ohio, area, Sept. 22 and plans to further expand its commercial, retread and retail operations by the middle of next year.
``A lot of people are down on the tire industry,'' Mr. Sumerel said. ``But we love it. We think there is a lot of opportunity.''
Bob Sumerel Tire acquired Columbus General for an undisclosed price from owner Dick Hollinshead, who will stay on as a consultant. The deal involved four stores in the city and an outlet in nearby Lancaster that operated as Shaeffer Tire. It also gave Bob Sumerel Tire its first retail presence in the Columbus market.
The firm will use the new stores as a base from which to expand its retail operations, Mr. Sumerel said, probably with three or four new stores in Columbus' outlying areas in the near future.
In addition to its retail operations, Columbus General also sold commercial, earthmover and foam-fill tires and operated a Hercules/Cedco retread plant. The Hercules operation will be converted to a Bandag shop, according to Mr. Sumerel.
Beyond the Columbus General purchase, Bob Sumerel Tire is expanding two commercial sites in the state.
In late September, the company moved a smaller commercial dealership and Bandag retread shop into a new 30,000-sq.-ft. facility in the Dayton, Ohio, area.
It will make a similar move in February when it closes a commercial and retread operation in Columbus and moves into a larger, 30,000-sq.-ft. Bandag plant and commercial facility in the city. The truck center also will contain drive-through service space and a rim reconditioning area, Mr. Sumerel said.
As part of this expansion, Bob Sumerel Tire will move its corporate headquarters from Erlanger to the new facility in Columbus, Mr. Sumerel said.
Once the two expanded Bandag plants are in operation, the firm will produce about 500 medium truck retreads per day, he said.
The dealership also has plans to open two retail stores in the greater-Cincinnati area next year-one April 1, the other May 1. Both outlets will operate as Bob Sumerel Tire & Service Center Super Stores, an automotive service and tire retailing concept the company introduced in Cincinnati in 1991.
Mr. Sumerel declined to disclose their locations.
The addition of these nine facilities will give Bob Sumerel a total of 27 locations including four Bandag plants, boosting sales about 40 percent to an estimated $47 million.