Openings Former Goodyear franchise store manager Kevin Couch opened his first dealership in Pleasant Hill, Iowa, Nov. 12.
The eight-bay Pleasant Hill Tire & Auto location already has turned a profit, according to manager Mike Golwitzer, who previously worked with Mr. Couch at one of Ames, Iowa-based Crowner Tire's outlets.
Store traffic should improve in the future, as well, Mr. Golwitzer said, once the construction of a city bypass road is completed. That bypass will run about one mile from the Pleasant Hill store, according to Mr. Golwitzer.
The current location is a newly constructed building. Mr. Golwitzer said the company already has plans to open a second outlet in number of months.
Jim New and his wife, Molly, opened their first Big O Tire Stores Inc. location in Mukilteo, Wash.
The newly constructed outlet holds six service bays.
``While Mukilteo has a population of about 15,000, we'll attract customers from surrounding areas like Everett. . . and once people find out we give the best service, we will do fine,'' Mr. New said.
The store offers alignment, brake and shock and strut work, as well as new tire sales.
Despite the competitive nature of the New Jersey tire market, Traction Wholesale Center opened its fourth location in 11 years, according to co-owner and President Joe O'Donnell.
The 10,000-sq.-ft. warehouse, located in Wilmington, Del., opens Delaware as a market for the Trenton, N.J.-based wholesaler. The company, which expects $13 million in sales this year, also has a location in Hainsport, N.J., and one near Philadelphia.
The wholesaler sells about 25 different brands of passenger, light truck, truck, off-the-road and specialty tires. The company's primary lines include Mastercraft, Sigma and Falken brand tires.
``It's a very competitive area, but we've kind of carved out our own little niche,'' said Mr. O'Donnell, who explained the company deals in small, just-in-time deliveries to dealerships, service stations and body shops.
Traction Wholesale services its 2,000 customers with a fleet of 28 delivery trucks, he said.
Continuing its steady expansion, Durand, Wis.-based Bauer Built Inc. purchased Roger's Tire Service Inc., a Waukesha, Wis., retail and commercial dealership.
Roger's Tire owner, Jim Amidei, will remain with Bauer Built as manager of the operation, which consists of a truck tire center and a Bandag Inc. retread plant.
The purchase, effective Jan. 20, gives Bauer Built 23 tire centers, nine wholesale distribution centers and seven Bandag retread plants.
Even while the economy in northeastern Georgia was recovering from the loss of 9,000 jobs after the Savannah River nuclear weapons complex closed, the folks at Jim Whitehead Tire Service were racking up retread and new tire sales increases of 38 and 34 percent, respectively.
``It was the result of training and a lot of hard work,'' replied General Manager Mac Woodlief, who came to the dealership two years ago.
Mr. Woodlief said Whitehead Tire wound up the year with an $870,000 increase in total sales, encompassing about 4,000 more retreads, 3,000 more new tires and $75,000 in service sales.
Moreover, the dealership also is forecasting similar sales increases for 1997, according to Mr. Woodlief.
During the last two years, Whitehead Tire has stepped up training for all of its 32 employees, he said. Those who work in the retread plant, for example, now must receive certification both in-house and from Bandag Inc., the firm's retread supplier.
``We really work hard on our people,'' said Mr. Woodlief, who last year directed a training program for sales and other employees based on the book, ``Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.''
``People are our greatest asset. You manage things, but you must lead people,'' he pointed out.
Besides commercial truck, light truck and industrial/specialty retreads, which account for about 25 percent of the dealership's $5 million-plus sales, Whitehead Tire also sells Bridgestone, Michelin, Kelly, Firestone and other new tire brands.
Two tire dealerships recently were featured in Forbes magazine as part of its 500 Top Private Companies list.
Discount Tire Co. and Les Schwab Tire Centers Inc. finished 313th and 395th on the Frobes list.
Forbes reported Discount Tire revenues at $632 million and estimated Les Schwab's revenues to be $520 million.
Last year TIRE BUSINESS ranked Discount Tire and Les Schwab as the top two North American dealerships based on sales.