DENVER—Peerless Tyre Co. President Sam Forbes entered 1996 with the idea of building two, maybe three, new outlets in his market. He put those plans on hold in February—but not out of hesitancy. Instead, the tire and gas retailer entered the Kansas market for the first time with the Nov. 19 purchase of six retail outlets and two service stations from Rex's Tire Co. Inc.
Although the expansion was ``a little bit beyond'' the company's growth goals, Mr. Forbes said the opportunity was ``too good to pass up.''
With the new outlets, Denver-based Peerless now operates 52 tire stores and 40 gasoline stations in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, South Dakota, Nebraska, Texas and Kansas. Although the new Kansas market ``wasn't high on our list for expansion,'' according to Mr. Forbes, it is contiguous to the company's other locations.
Peerless, which sells Bridgestone, Dean and Nokian tires along with its Peerless private label tire, manufactured by Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., reported company sales of $69.4 million. This year, TIRE BUSINESS ranked the company the 11th largest independent retail tire dealership in North America.
Based on the past performance of Peerless, Rex's Tire owner Rex Koppes said he has no doubt the stores will remain successful. A number of potential buyers approached Mr. Koppes before he settled on Peerless because of its ``strong track record.''
``I had the opportunity to find somebody that could buy all of these (outlets),'' he said. ``It's hard to find somebody to handle these and have the wherewithal to make them fly.''
The private brander acquired three tire outlets in Topeka, two in Manhattan and one in Junction City, Kan., all of which have come under the Peerless banner. The company also converted two Texaco gas stations, one each in Topeka and Manhattan, to its own Peerless brand.
Mr. Koppes retained his largest store in Topeka and continues to operate it as Rex's Tire. He also has been retained by Peerless as a community relations consultant for the Kansas area.
Mr. Koppes, a diehard sports fan, said he decided to sell most of his operation in order to have more free time to spend—among other things—watching Kansas' collegiate and professional sports teams.
``Rex wants to slow down and begin planning getting out of business, and we wanted to expand,'' Mr. Forbes said. ``So I think everybody wins.''
Mr. Koppes started his business in 1961 with an outlet in Clay Center, Kan. Nine years later he bought his second store in Manhattan. He broke into the Topeka market in 1978.
Rex's Tire now also sells the Peerless private brand tire, as well as Kelly-Springfield products, Mr.
Koppes said. The 10-bay retail tire store and convenience center also performs undercar service.
According to Mr. Forbes, the former Rex's Tire outlets will continue performing the same service work as well. Prior to the acquisition, automotive service accounted for only about 2 percent of Peerless' total sales. Tires and gasoline account for 34 and 64 percent, respectively, according to a TIRE BUSINESS survey.
As for next year, Mr. Forbes said he expects his company to again look at building two or three new stores in the company's established markets.