After a quarter century in one location, Mark McCoy admitted he was thinking about moving.
Little did the co-owner (with his wife Elizabeth) of Autco Tire and Service Center in Amarillo, Texas, realize it wouldn't be a matter of choice. Thanks to a non-renewal of a lease by their property owner, the McCoys were forced to pull up stakes.
They didn't move far, though-just one block south and one block west of their former location. The new site, which opened April 23, has 14,000 square feet and six bays, more than double the size of the McCoys' prior store. ``We really outgrew it,'' he said.
Autco, which orginally opened in 1976 (the McCoys bought out the former co-owner eight years later), has 12 employees. They include six mechanics, a retail sales manager, a commercial sales manager, a store manager and a secretary. Mr. McCoy said two people were added after the expansion, and he expects to add more.
A retailer of Michelin, Uniroyal and BFGoodrich tires-Autco originally began as a BFGoodrich dealership-Mr. McCoy does some wheel wholesaling in the Texas panhandle. All told, he said his dealership does $1.8 million in annual sales.
Faced with losing his store after the Winston Tire Co. program with which he was affiliated ``died,'' David Laski found a another big name to put on his store's marquee.
Once the manager of a Winston store, Mr. Laski became head honcho of a new Big O Tires Inc. location, which began operation in Tarzana, Calif., April 1.
The store changed from Winston to Big O literally overnight, and not a single day of business was lost. Overnight also might best describe the situation with which Mr. Laski nearly found himself unemployed.
``We didn't have much of a choice,'' he said of the change. ``I was here to be a franchisee of (Winston's) national program. (Then Heafner Tire Group) said: `Look, the program died.' I wanted to (stay) open under someone with a big name.''
(The Winston Tire retail chain was recently sold by Heafner to Lafayette, La.-based Performance Management Inc.)
So Mr. Laski and his six-employees simply changed hats and kept operating the same 4,000-sq.-ft., four-bay store, which handles Big O brands along with Michelin, Goodyear, Dunlop and Pirelli. Mr. Laski also sells American Racing custom wheel packages and maintains a few commercial accounts from his days as a Winston dealer.
STS Tire & Auto Centers Inc. increased its store count to 77 on May 21 with the opening of its fourth location on New York's Long Island.
The new 4,000-sq.-ft. store in Huntington, N.Y., has six bays. As with all STS locations, the new outlet will sell primarily Continental, Firestone, Michelin and Toyo tires. Home to five employees, including a manager and four mechanics, the shop will participate in STS' ``Service Guard'' commercial program, which is geared to companies with three or more fleet vehicles or 100 or more employees.
An STS spokesman said the company anticipates opening a fifth Long Island store in Selden, N.Y., before year's end.
Mark's Twin Tire Service L.L.C. of Mandeville, La., opened its doors on June 11.
The six-bay, 12,000-sq.-ft. store employs six. Owner Mark Gauthier and assistant Glenn Schnurr sell primarily Cooper tires. But Mr. Gauthier said the outlet will carry all major brands, some specialty tires, and also will do some wholesaling.
With the help of $22,500 of federal grant money earmarked for a micro-lending program for neighborhood businesses, Ben's Tire Center in Buffalo, N.Y., recently expanded.
The 34-year-old, three-bay shop grew to approximately 16,000 square feet, representing a three-fold increase over its prior size, estimated owner Ben Cowell.
The single-store operation employs four mechanics and carries Goodyear, BFGoodrich and Bridgestone as its primary brands.
A Big O Tires Inc. store in Amarillo, Texas, recently combined with the company's corporate offices to donate a set of tires, mounting and balancing to a needy area resident.
According to a Big O spokesman, such promotions are a common gesture, fostering goodwill while improving public relations. ``We donated a set to the Amarillo people to show them we really were behind them and want their business,'' he said, adding that the company tends to do such things at grand openings.