Bauer Built Inc. is opening a commercial/wholesale/retread center in Romeoville, Ill., a southwest suburb of Chicago, as part of a plan to solidify its presence in the Midwest.
``We have some business established there (Chicago), but if you look at where we're at geographically...we pretty much surround Chicago with our other facilities,'' President Jerry Bauer said, referring to his locations in Milwaukee and Indianapolis. ``It's the largest market in the geographical area that I do business in today.''
Commercial and wholesale activities at the 58,000-sq.-ft. center are slated to begin April 1. The retread plant will begin operating between July 1 and Jan. 1, 2003, he said.
Capacity for the retread plant, a Michelin Retread Technologies Inc. affiliate, will start at 100 tires per day and probably grow to 200 tires per day, depending on how much equipment Bauer Built installs, according to Mr. Bauer. The dealership will continue to supply the market from its Milwaukee and Indianapolis retread shops until the Romeoville facility is fully up and running.
Mr. Bauer declined to comment on the cost to open the Chicago center. He also gave no estimates of how much revenue the location would add to the dealership's sales.
Bauer Built added five commercial locations last year in Nebraska through the July acquisition of Lincoln, Neb.-based Great Plains Tire Centers. And the firm boosted its wholesale business by as much as $12 million annually by buying Fulton, Ill.-based U.S. Wholesale Tire Inc. The company also expanded commercial centers in Davenport, Iowa, and Sac City, Wis.
There's nothing on the drawing board right now for further expansion, he said, although it's possible the company may eventually expand its presence in the Chicago area.
``We're taking it one step at a time,'' Mr. Bauer said. ``If we get this one up and running successfully and need to add locations to support our efforts in the market, we would definitely look at that. But we don't have any immediate plans.''
The addition of Great Plains' five stores helped Bauer increase commercial sales last year by 12.7 percent to $97 million; total sales rose by 8.5 percent to $140 million.