SPRINGFIELD GARDENS, N.Y.—Angelo Scaglione is ``loaded for bear.'' The CEO of the Empire State-based King Bear Auto Service Centers Inc. is poised to expand beyond the New York City and Long Island areas into New Jersey, Connecticut and Florida.
King Bear plans to add about one franchise owner a month to its present roster of 32 locations. ``About four or five (potential franchises) are in the oven now,'' Mr. Scaglione said.
``I think the auto service business is on the rise,'' he said, adding that King Bear is looking to put trust back in the auto service business.
"We're going to bring back the neighborhood repair shop.''
King Bear is actively seeking franchisees with previous experience in a transportation-related business who are interested in setting up shop in the community where they live.
For example, one of King Bear's newest franchise owners formerly worked for New York City's transit system.
A company advertisement said the new King Bear stores will be ``clean, women-friendly, professionally-run repair facilities'' and will develop relationships with consumers ``based on honesty, integrity and trust.''
Though most King Bear dealers offer tires made by Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., the real emphasis is on auto service—both undercar and engine tune-ups and diagnostics.
Mr. Scaglione said he offers franchisees the benefits of group purchasing.
For instance, when New York State mandated a new, tougher set of emission standards, he said many automotive repair shop owners decided to stop doing vehicle inspections because of the cost of new testing machines.
But he said King Bear's franchised dealers were able to save about $10,000 of the original nearly $48,000 cost of the new units because the company negotiated a group purchase.
King Bear was founded in 1973. Mr. Scaglione joined the company as a franchisee five years later. He then bought the dealership three years ago and has been working ever since on his new franchising expansion plan.
His original 14-bay facility is now the King Bear corporate headquarters and training center where new employees work on the vehicles of actual customers.
Projected sales for the company-owned flagship store in 1999 are approximately $1.8 million—about 10 percent from tires.