Winston Tire Co. will increase its store network of 132 locations by at least eight by year-end, and is bringing back deceased company founder Sam Winston as part of a marketing surge that will coincide with those openings.
The immediate additions include an 8,000-sq.-ft., six-bay outlet in Cypress, Calif., and a 6,000-sq.-ft. shop in Rhonert Park, Calif., Winston President Ron Vines said. Both were set to open in late October. The Cypress location was built from the ground up, the Rhonert Park store is an existing location.
He added that six more Winston stores will open before the end of 2001, three as soon as mid-November. Those locations will be in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas.
``Our strategy is to back-fill markets,'' Mr. Vines said. ``We're already in all the major markets in California. We've done some serious mapping and looked for where the holes are.''
Part of that marketing includes Mr. Winston to be a spokesman. Mr. Vines, who said he wasn't sure why Mr. Winston, who died in a 1995 car accident, was excluded from past campaigns, said the move was a no-brainer, in terms of a recognition factor.
``People can still recite TV commercials that Sam was in that haven't been run in eight years,'' Mr. Vines said.
Winston also announced it has paid in full a $5 million loan from Goodyear, and did so ahead of schedule. It also closed offices in Burbank, Calif., in favor of a new regional site in Torrance, Calif., and has reduced corporate staff by nearly 50 percent.
Winston was acquired in May by Lafayette, La.-based Performance Management Inc., which has since overhauled Winston's front office. Mr. Vines' hiring as president was part of that transaction.
A year after closing a store in Lawrence, Kan., due to an expired lease, Gregg Tire Co. recently opened an eight-bay facility in that city.
The new outlet, about the same size as the previously leased shop, brings Gregg Tire back to operating four stores, two each in Topeka and Lawrence, Kan., according to Vice President Rob Gregg. The dealership employs 45 and primarily carries Goodyear tires.
A family-owned company, Gregg Tire was founded in 1917 by Mr. Gregg's great-grandfather, George Gregg. Rob Gregg's father Randy is president of the dealership; his brother, Ryan, the computer technician; and his aunt, Pam Kemper, works as an office assistant.
Of the dealership's $4.2 million annual sales, 60 percent is from tires.
Rob Gregg noted the dealership has had to stay ahead of an increasingly competitive market, but the basics remain the same. ``Quick, reliable and honest service is the key,'' he said.
Somerset Tire Service Inc. (STS) has purchased Ramapo Discount Tire Centers, a Mahwah, N.J.-based chain of six retail tire and auto service centers and one wholesale location.
The acquisition brings STS' store count to 83 retail outlets throughout New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and seven wholesale locations in those same states, as well as Massachusetts.
STS President Bill Caulin said the acquisition will allow the company to continue its ambitious growth strategy in the tri-state area.
He characterized Ramapo Discount Tire as ``a perfect fit, with seven locations complementing our existing stores in a growing market.''
Prior to the acquisition, the company was forecasting sales of $110 million in 2001, of which approximately 75 percent was expected to be derived from retail and 25 percent from wholesale operations. STS is North America's 11th largest independent tire dealership in terms of retail sales.
Canadian tire dealership Fountain Tire has selected CarParts Technologies Inc. to provide new point-of-sale technology for the company's 135 retail locations in western and central Canada.
Fountain Tire chose CPT's Chain Retail Master system over 11 other systems. The multi-year agreement calls for El Segundo-based CarParts Technologies to customize its point-of-sale solution for Fountain Tire and provide training, maintenance and support.
Fountain Tire said its decision to go with CPT was based in part on Chain Retail Master's ability to integrate with Goodyear's Xplor extranet order and inventory control system. Fountain Tire is 49-percent owned by Goodyear Canada Inc.
CPT Chain Retail Master is a Windows-based point-of-sale and shop management solution providing customizable features that help users improve customer service and increase sales and profitability.
CPT Chain Retail Master also integrates with Great Plains Accounting (a Microsoft product) and GRACS Retreading systems.
CarParts Technologies is a provider of integrated supply-chain solutions for the automotive aftermarket, designed to optimize retailers' operations, sales, and shipments and customer and supplier relationships.