A new King Bear Auto Service Center franchise location opened Jan. 15 in New Rochelle, N.Y.
The five-bay facility, owned by Sher and Axel Maldonado, provides undercar and underhood auto service and tires. It has three employees.
The new store's business has been "OK" thus far, Ms. Maldonado said, though tires sales are off. Since the Aug. 9 recall of Firestone tires, "We haven't sold any (tires)," she said.
Mr. Maldonado is an experienced auto mechanic, Ms. Maldonado said, but this is the couple's first tire business venture.
King Bear now has 43 franchised locations in addition to its company-owned outlet and corporate headquarters in Springfield Gardens, N.Y.
On Sept. 1, two dealerships combined in what might be termed a "friendly" merger.
Hi-Tech Service Inc., with five locations in Michigan, and Merit Service Inc., which has five locations in the Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C., areas, combined under the same banner and now operate as Friends Tire and Hi-Tech Service Inc., headquartered in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Richard L. Mendler, who headed the two companies and was a majority shareholder in both, is president and CEO of the combined dealership. Michael L. Gabriel, former High-Tech vice president, is executive vice president for finance and operations and Keith C. Keal, former vice president of Merit, is executive vice president for sales and marketing.
Friends Tire plans to open a location, in Apex, N.C., on Oct. 1 and has two others under construction in the Atlanta area.
The new company's annual sales will be about $15 million this year, with tire sales representing about 30 percent of revenue. Mr. Keal said the company wants to raise that to 50 percent over the next five years.