Their tires may not come with fries and a shake, but the folks at Nebraska Tire used a meat-and-potatoes strategy when acquiring its two newest outlets.
``We used the `Burger King Theory,''' said Bruce Docter, Nebraska Tire's division manager. ``McDonald's does all the research, then Burger King opens up a restaurant on the same road.''
Nebraska Tire bought its seventh and eighth stores, both Big O Tires Inc. franchise locations, in Grand Island and Kearney, each 100 or so miles west of Lincoln, Neb. The Kearney store is stationed in a Wal-Mart parking lot; the Grand Island location is in front of a Menard's retail location.
Both are in areas Mr. Docter described as high-traffic. It's that philosophy that has seen Nebraska Tire's sales vault from $125,000 to nearly $5 million in seven years, according to Mr. Docter. The dealership has added five stores in the last year and a half, attributing that to the dollar growth.
The two new stores are between 6,000 and 7,000 square feet in size and have six service bays. They will sell Big O, BFGoodrich, Michelin and Yokohama tires for cars and light trucks, and primarily Firestone and Titan agricultural tires. Mr. Docter billed Nebraska Tire as one of the biggest farm tire dealers in the state.
Like all Nebraska Tire locations, the newly acquired stores will be home to three employees. Each store will have a manager, who will double as a tire technician.
With only minimal underhood service-Mr. Docter said 80 percent of the company's business is from tires-managers aren't needed to handle office-type duties.
``We are low-overhead, low-cost,'' he said. ``We don't have anyone standing around.''
Pam Fitzgerald isn't exactly sure what her company was waiting for, but there's no point dwelling on it. Ms. Fitzgerald, president of Gatto's Tire & Auto Service Inc., was talking about why Gatto's waited so long to add a seventh store in Viera, Fla.
``We had the property for five years, so it should have been built,'' she said. ``I can't tell you (why it wasn't).''
Ms. Fitzgerald said the mistake won't be repeated. Plans are already on the drawing board for more Gatto's locations, with the Viera store-the company's first to be built from the ground up-to stand as the prototype.
Upon completion, the new store will be 7,000 square feet with 10 service bays.
The new store, like its predecessors, will be a Goodyear G3 location, selling Goodyear, Dunlop, Kelly and Michelin tires. It will house seven or eight employees, including a manager, service manager, a salesman, three auto technicians and two tire changers.
The Viera store, in what Ms. Fitzgerald called one of the fastest growing areas of Broward County, is located on a main highway, just one-half mile from Interstate 95.
Ms. Fitzgerald said her dealership doesn't do much in terms of specialty tires, custom wheels or wholesaling, but its Cocoa, Fla., store has four service trucks to handle commercial customers.
Gatto's has been in existence for 30 years. Ms. Fitzgerald, daughter of founder and chairman of the board Mike Gatto, has been president for the past eight years.
Continuing expansion at what company president Ed Hogan called a ``slow, steady pace,'' Hogan Tire Inc. has opened its sixth Boston-area store.
The latest addition, in Lowell, Mass., is a 6,000-sq.-ft. shop with seven bays. The new store has a manager, assistant manager and five technicians among its seven employees.
It sells Michelin, Uniroyal, BFGoodrich, Bridgestone and Firestone brands. Mr. Hogan said a small amount of wholesale business will be conducted at the outlet, which also performs most automotive services.
The dealership offers some custom wheel packages, primarily from American Racing.
``We do plan on future expansion at some point,'' Mr. Hogan said, alluding to the probability that the Lowell store will not be his last.
Robert Padilla doesn't know much about getting his kicks, but he's definitely on Route 66 and has the National Scenic Byways Program to prove it.
Mr. Padilla owns Jr's Tire Shop in Moriarty, N.M., located on Interstate 40 just east of Albuquerque. The little shop is located on the historic highway and is recognized on the National Historic Register.
Built in 1937 and formerly known as the Green Evans Whiteway Garage, Jr's (that's as in Junior's) was purchased by Mr. Padilla's father in the mid 1960s. The younger Padilla figures the place got its historical distinction from its location.
``It's just because it's an old Route 66 building,'' he said. ``It's one that's still in its original form. It's really nothing special. It's not a big deal here. You still have to work, that's what it all comes down to.''
Jr's is a 3,000-sq.-ft., three-bay retail shop with six employees. Its tire lines include Hankook, Lee, Monarch and others.
For the fifth consecutive year, Frisby Tire Co. in Ottawa, Ont., has been named winner of the Consumer's Choice Award for Business excellence, which is meted out based on a survey of area business patrons.
``It's a legit thing, they do a good poll,'' said company President Don Frisby, who acknowledged the award was part of a marketing program for area businesses.
Frisby Tire is a third-generation family dealership that opened in 1920. It has five retail stores-including one commercial outlet-in the Ottawa area that employ 80.
The company handles Michelin, Uniroyal, Goodrich, Cooper, Pirelli and Goodyear tires. Mr. Frisby said it also sells some specialty tires, specifically for lawn and garden equipment, and offers a variety of custom wheels.
Mr. Frisby added that wholesaling comprises 15 percent of the company's business. Winter tire sales account for about 40 percent of Frisby Tire's revenue, he said.