ORANGE, Mass.—With the acquisition of a third Bandag retread plant and three commercial tire outlets in late 1998, Pete's Tire Barns Inc. has solidified its status as the largest Bandag Inc. franchisee in New England, as well as one of the largest retreaders overall in the region. The opportunity to buy the commercial units—all from Zeller Tire Co. Inc. of Torrington, Conn.—arose late last year, when second-generation owner Jim Zeller decided to revamp his business to concentrate on the retail segment.
The addition of a third Bandag shop pushes Pete's Tire Barns' retread output to more than 400 units a day, or about 2.5 million pounds of tread rubber a year, said President and CEO Peter Gerry. The firm's other retread plants are at its headquarters in Orange, Mass., and in Providence, R.I.
In addition to the purchased locations, Pete's Tire Barns has opened two stores this year—in Leominster, Mass., and White River Junction, Vt.—bringing the dealership's network to 14: eight in Massachusetts, four in Connecticut and one each in Rhode Island and Vermont. The company operates about 100 service trucks.
Overall sales are expected to reach $33 million this year, about 90 percent of which comes from commercial accounts, the company said.
Following its recent growth, Pete's Tire Barns now is large enough to be considered one of the 30 largest retreaders and 25 largest commercial tire dealerships in North America.
The firm's new-tire offerings include Michelin, Cooper, General, Yokohama and, since April, Bridgestone and Firestone.
Zeller Tire now operates one retail store in Torrington, but Mr. Zeller said he is re-evaluating his decision to exit the commercial tire business.
He recently bought property in two neighoring communities and plans to convert the sites to commercial dealerships by year-end.
Mr. Zeller also is evaluating two other retread system suppliers—identified only as not Bandag—for a possible re-entry into retreading.