It may not qualify as a ``magical mystery tour,'' or even rank with that famed ``three-hour tour'' of Gilligan's Island, but those who attended Purcell Tire & Rubber Co.'s recent ground-breaking and grand-opening tour in Phoenix should at least have earned some frequent rider miles.
Deciding that a single store grand opening wasn't enough to garner attention, Al Chicago, senior vice president of Purcell's Western States Tire operation, arranged to conduct three ground breakings and a store opening in one day. To do so, he hired a tour bus to ferry about 40 company executives and local dignitaries and media representatives around to the four sites.
The day-Feb. 8, fortunately for all involved a sunny one-started with a ground-breaking ceremony in Avondale, then proceeded to ground breakings in Glendale and Chandler, and ended up at Purcell's newest store, a 14-bay, 11,000-sq.-ft. retail tire and auto service center in an area known as Val Vista. There actually isn't an incorporated Val Vista-the store's sidewalks are in Mesa while the streets belong to Gilbert, Mr. Chicago explained.
Purcell's whistle stop tour, he said, was meant to underscore the firm's commitment to its presence in the Phoenix area, which when the Avondale, Chandler and Glendale stores open, will reach 16 stores.
The foundation, so to speak, for this flurry of activity was Purcell's purchase 12 months earlier of six properties-one operating store and five plots-in the Phoenix area from Heafner Tire Group, which was in the process of divesting its Tire Outlet Plus stores there. Purcell targeted the Phoenix area in large part because of its growth: between 2,000 and 3,000 new residents a month.
In the meantime, Purcell has converted the Mesa store to its flag and store design, and the Val Vista store is the second new one-and 13th overall in the Phoenix area.
The other new stores will be 10-bay, 7,000-sq.-ft. designs, Mr. Chicago said. The Avondale location should be open by May, Glendale by August and Chandler by November. All told, Purcell has budgeted $8 million to cover these five new stores. When operating at full speed, the new stores should generate more than $9 million in new sales annually, Mr. Chicago said.
Interestingly, the store in Chandler will feature only white signs with black lettering, in accordance with local ordinance, he said. To do so, Purcell had to get permission from Goodyear, for example, to put up such a sign.
Separately, Purcell recently bought Consolidated Tire's retread operations in Phoenix and consolidated its operations there at that facility, which at one time was a Goodyear off-road tire retreading plant.
The acquired facility offers three times the space and allows Purcell to double output to 240 tires a day.
The operations in Arizona are part of Purcell Tire's Western States operating unit which, according to Mr. Chicago, posted a record year in 2001. The Western States unit operates 31 of Purcell's 54 outlets and three of the firm's seven retread plants.