Openings "This town is booming,'' said Jim Dutton, owner of San Juan Tire Service in Anacortes, Wash. Mr. Dutton opened an American Car Care Centers dealership 14 months ago in this fast-growing community.
The four-bay shop specializes in tires and undercar repairs. He said exhaust system work accounts for about 40 percent of the $600,000 in sales his shop rang up in its first full year. San Juan Tire features the American Car Care Center brands and also sells Cooper, BFGoodrich and Michelin tires.
His wife, Lessley, and three employees keep busy meeting the tire replacement and auto repair needs of long-term residents and many retirees who are migrating to this maritime community north of Seattle on the strait of San Juan de Fuca.
Mr. Dutton is a 22-year veteran of the tire business who spent 13 years as a managing partner of a Meridian Tire Co. dealership in Bellingham, Wash., and managed a Midas Muffler dealership before settling in Anacortes. His first location was across the street from the new facility, and he still operates a quick-lube shop there.
In November, Merchant's Tire & Auto Centers Inc. opened its 135th location, in Christiansburg, Va.
The Manassas, Va.-based firm opened three outlets in 1998 as part of a five-year plan to double in size.
Merchant's ranks fifth in retail sales and 10th in number of stores, according to Tire Business' 1998 ranking of North America's largest independent tire dealerships.
Like other Merchant's outlets, the Christiansburg store will offer ASE-certified service, express oil changes and exhaust and brake service, and will be open seven days a week.
Dobbs Tire & Auto Centers Inc. opened its 36th location on Nov. 12Ãa 10-bay outlet in O'Fallon, Mo., that features a large showroom. It will be run by veteran Dobbs manager Larry Corbin.
The High Ridge, Mo.-based dealership, which has about 430 employees, was ranked 23rd largest in North America based on number of outlets, according to Tire Business.
Jean Marcelon, a technician at Palm Beach Tire Inc. in Lantana, Fla., dropped the green flag to start a NASCAR race sponsored by All Pro/Bumper to Bumper Inc. at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina.
He was one of several dealer employee winners of a sweepstakes sponsored by the Florence, Ky.-based automotive marketing association. The firm sent other dealers and 10 customer sweepstakes winners on an expense-paid weekend trip to the race and other activities.
The sweepstakes was part of All Pro's ``You Drop the Flag'' marketing promotion. The company's 30 members distribute products to more than 3,500 stores and service centers. All Pro's annual sales exceed $1.3 billion.