When David and Stephen Sorbaro took over Mavis Discount Tire Inc. from their parents, Marion and Victor Sorbaro, in the late 1980s, they had 11 stores and one plan.
Sticking to that plan, the Sorbaros have since increased the store count to 42, with two set to open imminently. The 30-year-old, all-retail dealership, spread over Long Island and the Hudson Valley region of southeastern New York state, employs more than 400.
Much of its growth has taken place in the last eight years. Store No. 12 opened its doors in 1991, the 13th in 1994. The next 28 came in rapid-fire fashion, including four in the past year. That's impressive, as David Sorbaro explained, because expansion in that part of the country is not the easiest thing.
``It's very expensive,'' he said. ``Real estate is extremely expensive, real estate taxes are extremely expensive. Insurance is extremely expensive. It's not easy.''
He added that local zoning made it more difficult at first due to the reputation of the automotive service business being on the unclean side. Upscale suburbs are not always welcoming them with open arms, he said. Before Mavis rolled out the majority of its stores, its lack of a reputation-good or bad-made it difficult to get things through various municipalities' bureaucracies.
``Most of our stores are relatively new, very clean,'' he said. ``Now we're welcomed by the towns.''
Zoning issues and local governments are about the only things slowing the firm's growth these days.
Mr. Sorbaro credits his team of engineers and architects for cutting through the bureaucratic maze. The rest comes down to having a plan and sticking to it.
``We have our business model and we can cast a pro-forma (plan) based on location, demographics of a location, traffic counts,'' Mr. Sorbaro said. ``We're very disciplined. If it fits into our budgeted rental expense, if it fits into our business model, we'll do it. If not, we won't. It's an ever-evolving model, but still holding to a discipline.''
Mr. Sorbaro said he and his brother began working on and perfecting their model from 1988-91. Once the 11th store was opened, the model was ``tweaked,'' and the major roll-out began in 1994.
He said Mavis has seen annual sales increase about 20 percent since its 13th store opened. The company also has seen about a 20-percent annual increase in locations as well, though he called their ``three or four'' openings this year ``kind of a slow year.''
Mavis-named for the beginnings of the names of founders Marion and Victor Sorbaro, along with their last initial-sells General, Continental, Cooper and Pirelli brand tires.