Added Services Bob Sumerel Tire Co. is expanding into the auto service market by offering air conditioning, brakes, batteries, shocks, struts, oil changes and radiator services.
The Cincinnati-based chain has 21 locations in the greater Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio, areas and was 43rd in the 1998 Tire Business ranking of the largest independent retail dealerships, with estimated annual sales of $45 million.
Craig Sumerel, director of communications, said more than 80 percent of the company's locations already offer the added services and the rest will ``well before the end of the year.'' He said the dealership began adding services at the beginning of the year.
``We thought we had a pretty good customer base, and we wanted to make it more convenient for them,'' Mr. Sumerel said, adding that these services will give Bob Sumerel Tire more opportunity to grow.
The dealership would not disclose how much it will spend to provide the additional services nor projected sales. At selected locations, Bob Sumerel Tire also provides alignment service for large vehicles such as step vans, box trucks and semis.
The dealership acquired Wilmington, Ohio-based Dave Chaney Tire Co. in March, adding two commercial outlets and a retread plant. Mr. Sumerel wouldn't give any details about further expansion. However, he said, ``the potential out there's pretty staggering.''
The New England Association of Independent Tire Dealers presented its first annual President's Award to Reliable Auto Tire Co. Inc. of Hartford, Conn.
Jerry Massaro Sr., Reliable's owner, received the award during NEAITD's annual trade show and meeting in May.
The award was the brainchild of Ron Pisciotta Sr., 1998-99 president of NEAITD and co-owner of Maple Tire Center in Stafford Springs, Conn. Mr. Pisciotta said the award honors ``some of the good we have in this business.''
He said he first met Mr. Massaro, who was NEAITD president in 1959, several years ago. On hearing that Reliable was founded in 1919 and was still going strong, ``I thought that 80 years in the tire business shouldn't go unnoticed,'' Mr. Pisciotta said.
Reliable Tire was founded by Mr. Massaro's father, Anthony, and currently is operated by three third-generation Massaros: Jerry Jr., Anthony and Marty.
``The fact that we were honored as the first recipient of this award is very important to us,'' said Jerry Massaro Jr.
Mr. Pisciotta said guidelines for the award have been intentionally kept loose. It will be presented annually by NEAITD for ``whatever the president deems appropriate,'' he said.
Jon Micocci and Chuck Helt, co-owners of Atlantic Tire and Auto Inc. of St. Petersburg, Fla., have received the ``rookie of the year'' award for their business as graduates of St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce's Entrepreneurial Academy.
``It was kind of cool,'' Mr. Micocci said, adding the award ``kind of reinforces a customer's decision to come see you.'' Atlantic Tire's award was mentioned in the local newspaper and noted on a billboard, he said.
The 10-week, 30-hour academy was ``really great for giving the basics of setting up a small business.'' Mr. Micocci said there were about 25 businesses represented in the class he and Mr. Helt took prior to opening Atlantic Tire in August 1997.
He said a customer nominated them for the award, which honors firms for sales growth, management style and community involvement as determined by a panel of judges.
Atlantic Tire is an independent Goodyear dealership located near downtown St. Petersburg. The 10-bay, 10-employee, full-service shop had been a Goodyear company-owned store until the tire maker closed it in 1993.
Mr. Micocci said Atlantic Tire caters to downtown office workers by providing a free shuttle to and from work for customers who leave vehicles for service.
Keene, N.H.-based Tire Warehouse Central Inc. has added two franchises and now has a total of 49 locations.
The new stores are in Alton and Tamworth, N.H., and will carry a variety of tires, including Continental, Michelin, BFGoodrich, Goodyear and Firestone, as well as private brand lines and custom wheels.
Merchant's Tire and Auto Centers opened its 125th location in Midlothian, Va., on May 27. The Manassas, Va.-based chain said the new store is one of 15 outlets the company plans to add this year.
Tire Business ranked Merchant's fifth last year among the largest independent retail dealerships in North America, based on 1997 retail sales of $170 million.
Topline Tire Stores has opened two more locations, bringing the Tarpon Springs, Fla.-based chain's total to seven. Topline opened an eight-bay store in Spring Hill, Fla., in April and a nine-bay facility in Naples, Fla., in May.
The stores will offer Goodyear, Kelly and other major brands of tires, and a variety of auto service, including alignment, brake repair, tune-ups and air-conditioning service.
Also of interest
Members of the Moose Lodge in Moorpark, Calif., watched as fire gutted a nearby building that housed Junior's Tires and an auto repair shop on April 11. So, the lodge held a benefit breakfast on May 2 that raised nearly $1,200, which was split between the two businesses.
A lodge member who co-organized the event, Mike Hughes, told the Los Angeles Times that the members wanted to help a couple of local businessmen who had suffered a big loss in the fire.
Lodge member Gerald Williams, who helped cook food at the event, said about 200 people were served ham, eggs and potatoes. ``We sold out of everything,'' Mr. Williams said.
The lodge also accepted donations and held a raffle at the breakfast. Local merchants donated the food and prizes, including a variety of gift certificates.
Cool, damp weather may have discouraged some people from attending said Mr. Williams.
``We feel we could have done better, but the weather kept them away,'' he added.