With a spate of recent acquisitions in Ontario, Tirecraft Auto Centers Ltd. has been staking its claim to a larger presence in eastern Canada to complement its traditional strongholds in the western part of the country.
Most prominent among them, Tirecraft last August bought majority control of Oshawa, Ontario-based Attersley Tire Service Ltd., a commercial fleet distributor with nine commercial outlets and three Bandag retread facilities throughout southern Ontario-marking the dealership's entrance into the retreading arena.
The Attersley stores are wearing the Tirecraft Commercial Ltd. name, according to a company spokesman, and will follow Tirecraft Auto Centers' marketing policies.
More recently, Tirecraft, a subsidiary of Cellera Industries Canada Ltd., bought Ottawa, Ontario-based Capital City Tire last October, and completed a deal in early March to acquire Mark Johnson Tire in Windsor, Ontario. Capital City is a $3.9 million (U.S.) per year operation while Mark Johnson Tire reported annual sales of $2.6 million from its 18,000-sq.-ft. outlet, according to John Cosco, president of Celera.
In addition to Attersley and Tirecraft, Cellera Industries is a majority shareholder of wholesaler Remington Tire Distributors Inc. of Edmonton.
Like the Attersley locations before them, the two recent purchases now bear the Tirecraft name. Both companies' employees were retained, Mr. Cosco said, but he was unsure of exactly how many people that included. The value of the transactions was not disclosed.
``This certainly gives us a network of commercial operations right through Canada, through the Quebec border,'' Mr. Cosco said.
The Ottawa location-just a stone's throw from the Quebec/Ontario border and Montreal-gives Tirecraft a strategically placed network of locations throughout the western two-thirds of the country. With many locations on or near Canadian highways 17 and 1, the company is accessible to the vast majority of the nation's highway travel.
``We have a great service network in Ontario,'' Mr. Cosco said. ``There's an awful lot of traffic on (those highways) and we have the network to handle it.''
Mr. Cosco said there are no immediate plans for further acquisitions and, in the wake of the recent expansions, the business is in pretty good shape overall.
``We're very happy with things right now,'' Mr. Cosco said. ``Obviously, after Sept. 11 things were a little slow for a while. But it's been coming back.''
The new additions give Tirecraft 27 dedicated commercial locations in six provinces. The Attersley buyout raised Tirecraft's commercial-oriented sales to about $70 million on an annualized basis, putting Tirecraft on equal footing with Edmonton's Fountain Tire as the second largest commercial dealership in Canada, behind market leader Kal Tire.
The creation of Tirecraft Commercial in Ontario represents a slight shift in Tirecraft's product range. Attersley was predominantly a Bridgestone/Firestone dealer, and the nine Ontario locations will continue to sell these brands along with Tirecraft's Michelin and Yokohama product lines, Mr. Cosco said.
With Attersley's Bandag plants, Tirecraft entered retreading. Up to now, Tirecraft has sourced its commercial retreads from Canadian Treads Corp. of Edmonton, which operates four plants using Oliver Rubber materials and processes. That relationship will continue for Tirecraft's existing commercial stores in the western provinces, Mr. Cosco told Tire Business.
In Ontario, Tirecraft Commercial will operate the four Bandag retread plants acquired in the Attersley, Capital City and Mark Johnson deals, he said, and will continue to sell the products there.
Special projects reporter Bruce Davis contributed to this report.