When you think of western Pennsylvania, coal and steel come to mind.
James Stankiewicz is hoping to add commercial tires to that list, and the Valley Tire Co. Inc. owner is well on his way. And while you're at it, you may as well tack western New York onto that, since Valley Tire has a presence there, too.
With the addition of commercial outlets in Niagara Falls and Rochester, N.Y., and one in Jackson Center, Pa., the 21st largest commercial tire dealership in North America has solidified an already strong foothold in the foothills of Appalachia. The three January additions increased Valley Tire's network to 16 locations.
More growth is on the way, though not immediately, Mr. Stankiewicz said. That may change by the end of the year, but there's nothing going on right now. ``It's in the finite stage,'' he said. ``We look for other opportunities to buy out companies.''
That's what happened in the case of the Niagara Falls location. Valley Tire purchased a single-outlet dealership called the Tire Shoppe from owner Jack Landgrauf, who now works in the Buffalo, N.Y.-area outlet as assistant store manager.
The Rochester and Jackson Center locations, meanwhile, were start-ups.
Terms of Valley Tire's expansions and purchases were not disclosed.
Mr. Stankiewicz said the additional locations should increase Valley Tire's sales by about 15 to 20 percent, though that figure perhaps is a tad lower than it might otherwise be because two of the three outlets are new locations. He expects sales will increase once these locations become established.
The reason for the expansion was simple: better geographic coverage. Mr. Stankiewicz said he was particularly concerned with getting a facility in Jackson Center, which sits nearly at the midpoint between Pittsburgh and Erie, Pa.
``We've been looking in Pennsylvania, especially to put that location in,'' he said. ``We had a void between Pittsburgh and Erie. As far as New York, I wanted to look to expand our New York market share.''
The Rochester outlet covers 16,000 square feet, has two drive-through bays and offers alignment service; the Niagara Falls store measures 10,000 square feet, while the Jackson Center outlet features mobile alignment facilities.
The three locations employ 20, increasing Valley Tire's workforce to 250 overall. Altogether the dealership operates 12 commercial-only outlets, two combination commercial/retail locations and two retail stores.
Mr. Stankiewicz said the company posted $43.2 million in sales in 2001. He anticipates this will jump to $51.5 million this year.
Commercial revenues were $36.1 million in 2001 and are expected to jump to $47 million this year.
The company has three Bandag retread plants, located in Charleroi and Windver, Pa., and in Tonowanda, N.Y. Mr. Stankiewicz said Valley Tire offers a ``typical line'' of tires, including Michelin, Bridgestone, Firestone and Yokohama brands.