ATLANTA-Kauffman Tire has grown slowly but steadily through most of its 60-year existence. Recently, however, that has changed.
By the middle of next year, the Atlanta-based dealership will have opened seven new locations since late 1995, including three retail outlets in nearby suburbs and a wholesale warehouse in Dallas.
These additions will give the company seven wholesale, two commercial and 22 retail outlets.
``We're definitely in an aggressive expansion mode,'' said Clay Zbar, who directs the firm's marketing and advertising.
Despite its habit of shying away from ``rapid'' expansion in the past, the company still claims to be the fourth largest Goodyear distributor in the U.S. with outlets in Ohio, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. Now, with the help of a redefined corporate image, Kauffman Tire has hastened its expansion pace, Mr. Zbar said.
The dealership contracted with an interior design group, which developed a store front and interior model the company is following when it builds new stores. The company will retrofit its existing locations, Mr. Zbar said.
``Our stores don't look like garages,'' he said, noting the prototype includes a family-oriented waiting area with a television, VCR and play area and a clean restroom with pictures on the walls. All interior posters are hung in acrylic panels; only neon signs are used outside.
``We want the stores to look 1990s-not 1970s,'' he added. ``People that come in seem to appreciate it. You feel like you can sit down in your best attire and you don't have to look back when you get up to brush yourself off.''
Along with the store changes, the company redesigned its corporate logo, which now is ``on everything we send out,'' he said.
The logo-along with the company's philosophy of offering a professional atmosphere ``tempered with a friendly, locally owned and operated atmosphere''-also is highlighted in the company's television, newspaper, direct mail and radio advertising.
``In the past two and a half to three years, (Kauffman Tire has) gone from a big-time company behind the scenes to one that's stepped out on stage and people are starting to recognize it,'' Mr. Zbar said.
Kauffman Tire was founded as a single-location dealership in Wooster, Ohio, a town of some 20,000 residents. The company eventually moved South because the area offered good business opportunities and ``warmer weather,'' Mr. Zbar quipped.