INDIANAPOLIS—Tire dealers throughout the Midwest will face a new competitor—of sorts—next year, when the 170-store ``Best One Tire & Service'' network takes wing. Best One is the common banner under which the 170-plus stores of the Zurcher Group plan to operate, starting early next year. Trial marketing of the Best One identity began in recent weeks in ads for Indy Tire Centers' nine stores in Indianapolis, and S & S Tire Inc.'s 18 stores in Kentucky and Tennessee.
The launch of the common identity for all 170 stores was approved recently by the 70-plus dealers who make up the Zurcher Group, but a group-wide rollout is not expected until early in 2000.
While Best One will be new to the market, Midwest tire dealers already know the plan's participants well. In addition to S & S Tire and Indy Tire, some of the Zurcher Group members include: Monteith Tire in Warsaw, Ind., with eight stores; Southern Illinois Tire, with seven stores; and Southern Indiana Tire, with six.
The group, founded more than 35 years ago by Paul Zurcher of Zurcher Tire in Monroe, Ind., calls itself Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.'s largest U.S. buying group and is considered one of Goodyear's largest dealerships as well.
Mr. Zurcher and others in the organization declined to go into detail at this time regarding the specifics of the Best One program, but the trial identity logo indicates a commonality of automotive service offerings.
Although the Zurcher Group now does business under more than 70 different names throughout its seven-state operating area, Mr. Zurcher is the common thread, owning a share of all the dealerships involved. Mr. Zurcher's first store, in Monroe, opened in 1948, but it was not until the early 1960s that he started expanding with partnerships.
The group's retail holdings stretch across seven states: Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
In addition, Premier Bandag Inc. in Hartford City, Ind., is part of the group and the cornerstone of the group's Premier Fleet Services commercial tire network, which consists of 24 truck tire service centers operated under 19 different names.
With nine Bandag retread plants, Premier Bandag is North America's seventh-largest truck tire retreader and Bandag Inc.'s largest single customer. It is not known whether Premier Bandag also will adopt the Best One name.