BEDFORD, Texas—Mark Colbath is a second-generation tire man who chose to do business in cyberspace instead of a traditional dealership.
He is president of MPC Solutions Inc., a software company that has created NetworkTires.com— an online service for dealers buying and selling tires and wheels.
The Web site began in February. About 300 dealers and distributors have opened accounts and pay a fee for each transaction of 1 percent of the sale price, up to a maximum of $50. NetworkTires.com listed an inventory of more than 145,000 tires in mid-September, valued at about $19.1 million.
The site handles passenger, truck, off-the-road, agricultural, aviation and industrial tires, plus wheels, casings and retreads.
Mr. Colbath's father, Guy, spent 37 years in the tire business, including stints with Goodyear and GCR Truck Tire Centers. Now retired, he's using his industry contacts to develop business for his son's company.
While Mark attended high school and college, he worked for his father, who was manager of the GCR outlet in Austin, Texas. He stacked truck tires, filled tires with foam, operated a solid tire press and changed truck and OTR tires.
The younger Mr. Colbath graduated from the University of Texas in 1990 and worked in computer software development, including point-of-sale systems, before forming MPC in 1994.
In 1996, GCR asked him to develop tire-tracking software, and in 1998, Tire Centers Inc. (now owned by Michelin North America Inc.) contracted for an updated version of the software, called MPC Tire Tracker.
Mr. Colbath said he wants NetworkTires.com "to be a central site where people can, whether they're looking for new tires or bargains, come here and find a lead."
He currently is initiating an e-mail "push" to inform account holders about special opportunities, such as containers of available imported tires that are arriving at various ports.
If NetworkTires.com becomes profitable, Mr. Colbath plans to offer stock in a corporation separate from MPC, earmarking 10 percent of the company's shares to be given out for customer referrals. The firm will have 10 million shares total when incorporated, he said.