In 1981, Drew Dawson and Tom White graduated from Copley High School, just outside of Akron and about 20 miles south of Cleveland.
Two decades later, the pair is coming home. Mr. Dawson and Mr. White, owners of three tire stores in northeast Ohio, are opening their fourth Goodyear Gemini outlet, this one in Copley.
The new, 6,800-sq.-ft., eight-bay outlet is expected to open in April and will be the first to wear the dealership's new Tire Source moniker.
Existing locations bear the names of their respective communities: Medina Discount Tire, North Canton Tire and Canton Discount Tire.
``We worked for a couple years on marketing and the logo and name,'' Mr. Dawson said. ``We've always made (the names) neighborhood-based.''
Ultimately, the four stores will become Tire Source locations, whether the outside signage changes or not. Any future outlets would follow the Copley store and have the Tire Source name.
Mr. Dawson said future expansion is on his mind, but he doesn't have any specific plans. He also declined to disclose the cost of opening the Copley location.
Three of the four stores, including the new one, are in areas of intense population growth, which Mr. Dawson concedes was a factor in choosing the newest spot.
``We've been in business for 10 years and we're not really looking for rapid expansion,'' he said. ``As opportunities come forward and make sense, we want to continue to grow. We're not big guys. We just want to put together a small chain of stores.''
Messrs. Dawson and White purchased their Medina location from Goodyear in 1991. In 1995, they took over a closed Tire Centers Inc. store in Canton.
Three years later, they bought an existing Goodyear store in North Canton. The Copley store will be their first fresh start.
With that, and personal reasons, in mind, they will be on hand when it opens to make sure things go well.
``We're kind of coming home with the fourth store,'' Mr. Dawson said. ``We're very concerned with doing it right.''
He said the new store will employ 14-16 by the end of the year. That will include a service manager, a few salespeople and a combination of technicians and service people.
The store will sell Goodyear tires, which Mr. Dawson said represents about 90 percent of his tire sales at other locations, as well as Cooper tires. Mr. Dawson is a member of the Gemini National Advisory board.
Taking a step toward the future look of Big O Tires Inc. stores, the Englewood, Colo.-based tire franchiser has opened its prototype ``DL'' design store in Aurora, Colo.
The new location, owned by Denver-area Big O franchisee Bill Fountain, is built in the shape of an ``L,'' with basic tire service performed in two bays on the short end of the L, and auto service on the longer end, which is expandable. This is Mr. Fountain's fourth Big O store.
``The biggest advantage is the efficiency of the store,'' said a company spokesperson, who added the new design incorporates a warehouse into the showroom.
The new location, which opened Nov. 1, has six bays. It employs a manager, assistant manager, one other salesperson, two mechanics and five or six tire installers. The store, relocated from a smaller nearby shop, posted more than $100,000 in sales its first month, the spokesperson said.
Dunn Tire Corp.'s Erie, Pa., location has been voted the No. 1 tire store in Erie for 2001 in a readers' poll conducted by the Erie Times-News.
Buffalo, N.Y.-based Dunn Tire is a member of the American Car Care Centers Inc. group. It has 30 locations including three in Erie. Those three were honored as a group in the reader survey, a Dunn Tire spokesman said.
Big O Tires Inc.'s Prescott, Ariz., store has been named ``Best Tire Store'' in the Prescott Daily Courier's annual survey, in which more than 15,000 area readers voted.
The 5,400-sq.-ft., six-bay outlet outdistanced its nearest competitor by 18 percent of the vote, said store owner Jeff Anderson.
``It's a real honor to be awarded this,'' Mr. Anderson said. ``We have lots and lots of competition.''
Mr. Anderson said his store has thrived in the community of 30,000, despite the presence of two discount stores and numerous tire dealerships.