SALT LAKE CITY-Big O Tires Inc. hit a long-awaited milestone Dec. 18 with the opening in Salt Lake City of its 500th franchise store.
The company, a subsidiary of TBC Corp., celebrated the occasion with a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring guests from the city's chamber of commerce as well as ``Swoop,'' the mascot from the University of Utah and ``Cosmo,'' his counterpart at Brigham Young University.
The celebration culminated a year in which Big O exceeded its goal of opening 40 stores in 2001, said David Boeke, director of franchise development. He estimated that Big O had actually opened almost 100 locations during the year.
``The 500th store opening is due to the combined efforts of everyone,'' he said. ``We're looking forward to continued growth in 2002 through attracting new franchisees to the system, expansion among existing Big O dealers, and converting independent dealers to Big O.'' The opportunity to own a franchise, Mr. Boeke added, is ``even more attractive to people during times that the country is in a recession.''
The Salt Lake City store is owned by Kenneth Jensen, who previously had served as vice president of sales and marketing for Amsco Windows Co. During the store-opening ceremony, Mr. Jensen's employees performed a ``speed lane'' demonstration for guests in which four technicians changed a vehicle's tires and balanced the wheels in roughly five minutes. Deon McQuiston, a childhood friend of Mr. Jensen, will manage the day-to-day operations of the new store.
Big O President John Adams noted that Big O wants to be the No. 1 retailer in North America and-referring to the company's 40th anniversary in 2002-said he hoped that ``it doesn't take 40 years to get the next 500.''
Big O franchises can be found in 18 states and two Canadian provinces. Mr. Adams later told Tire Business that Big O is eyeing Mexico as a potential area for growth and is waiting for an opportunity there to present itself.
He declined to give any timetable for expansion into Mexico but said that Big O is translating its tire brochures into Spanish and is examining the distribution and legal issues involved with such an expansion.