WILSON, N.C.-ITCO Tire Co. is going shopping. Following the recent purchase of the majority of its stock by a private investment firm, the Wilson-based distributor of tires, wheels and equipment bought a smaller Florida wholesaler and is contemplating at least one other purchase.
ITCO announced it bought Acme Tire Co.'s wholesaling business from owner Dan Ginsberg, Jan. 15.
For ITCO, the purchase removes a competitor in the Miami area and will allow the company to combine its own warehouse there with that of Acme and move both into a larger leased facility March 1, according to Bill Berry, ITCO executive vice president.
ITCO has serviced southern Florida from its Miami warehouse since 1990, according to Mr. Berry.
``The combination of these two companies will provide enhanced products and services to all of our customers throughout South Florida,'' said Buck Burwell, ITCO president and CEO.
All of Acme's wholesale employees were hired by ITCO, according to Mr. Berry.
ITCO distributes primarily Dunlop brand and Kelly-Springfield Tire Co. associate brand tires, and Ultra Wheel Co., Superior Industries International and Optima Wheel Inc. wheels, as well as tire-dealer-related equipment to installers in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Acme primarily sold the same tire brands, Mr. Berry said.
Following the purchase, former Acme owner Mr. Ginsberg said he intends to focus his efforts on his commercial and retail businesses in Miami.
``We feel, with ITCO down here (in Flori-da) so large, that we've been given the opportunity to expand our commercial business,'' he said.
ITCO's acquisition comes in the wake of an investment firm's purchase of a majority of its stock, Nov. 3.
Wingate Partners, a Dallas-based private investment firm, and ITCO senior management purchased the stock, paving the way for the distributor's expansion.
``With the strength, distribution experience and financial investment from Wingate, we intend to expand and intensify our service and product offering,'' Mr. Burwell said.
Wingate Partners, which was founded in 1987, manages $200 million for 20 institutions, endowments or private families, ITCO said in a prepared statement.
Earlier Wingate had acquired a number of large distributors and manufacturers, including the nation's third-largest provider of manufactured housing, a maker of aluminum and vinyl windows, an armored car service, a wholesale office products distributor and Century Products, a maker of child car seats, strollers and other child products.
But ITCO does not plan to rest following its recent purchase.
The company plans to acquire the wholesale operation of another dealership in the Southeast by the middle of February, according to Mr. Burwell, who said negotiations for that purchase are ongoing.
By expanding its operations, ITCO can better serve independent tire dealers and installers with its ``coming your way every day,'' just-in-time delivery philosophy, according to Mr. Berry.
``What we're trying to do is provide better service to the independent installer with the products retailers need to better serve that channel of distribution,'' he said.
``The independent segment is actually increasing,'' he said, explaining ITCO's focus on smaller dealers. ``I think the independent guys that have adequate service can be competitive.''