AKRON (Nov. 4, 2002)—Anniversaries are usually a cause for revelry, so a group of tire dealers around the country couldn't help but mark major milestones with grand celebrations.
A quintet of dealerships celebrated or are celebrating milestone anniversaries this year totaling nearly three centuries of combined business. They are: Superior Tire and Auto, East Scarborough, Ontario; Belle Tire Distributors Inc., Allen Park, Mich.; Grismer Tire Co., Dayton, Ohio; Les Schwab Tire Centers Inc., Prineville, Ore.; and Circuit Tire Sales Ltd., Vancouver, British Columbia.
Perhaps summing up the feelings of all five, Superior President Paul Hyatt said: “You can't survive this long without having a really clear idea of what you stand for and what you're willing to do for your customers.”
The following is a look at the five dealerships and what they did, and are doing, to celebrate their birthdays.
The original Belle Tire location, in Detroit, is long gone. But the Allen Park-based company is still going strong as one of North America's oldest tire dealerships.
The dealership celebrated its 80th year in business with an anniversary sale and the grand openings of a pair of stores. The festivities covered a three-week period in August.
Belle Tire held anniversary activities at all 65 of its outlets, featuring what Vice President Jeff Kruse called “awesome prices for our customers.” Festivities also included the opening of new stores in Brighton and Commerce, Mich.
The dealership operates 57 retail stores, three commercial/retail outlets and and five commercial-only locations. Mr. Kruse said the company has 10 properties under development, including three in the greater Toledo, Ohio, area.
“Our business was very strong throughout the period,” Mr. Kruse said. “Our business was quite strong in August. The new stores we opened were very successful right out of the gate.”
Belle Tire, which is affiliated with the American Car Care Centers Inc. dealer program, employs 1,300. It sells Michelin, BFGoodrich, Uni-royal, Goodyear, Kelly, Bridgestone, Firestone, Toyo, Continental, American and General brand tires, among others.
Grismer Tire is spending all of 2002 celebrating its 70th anniversary and is doing so with a variety of promotions and sales, according to John Marshall, vice president-retail.
The year-long event kicked off with the opening of a store in Fairborn, Ohio, that included a visit from Bridgestone/Firestone executive John Gamauf. Mr. Marshall said all promotional material this year includes mention of the 70th anniversary.
Grismer Tire has 25 locations in the Dayton area and employs about 260 and is eyeing further expansion. Construction was to begin this fall on a store in Troy, Ohio, while another location will be moved, though Mr. Marshall would not divulge which one. The dealership operates one location as far north as Columbus, Ohio, and is looking to add a second one there, he said. .
Grismer Tire is perhaps best known for being the oldest Bandag retreader in Ohio. It was the first full-circle retreader in Ohio outside of Firestone itself, according to Mr. Marshall. Grismer also was one of the first in the state to sell the Michelin brand.
The company has one retreading facility, but Mr. Marshall said it has been getting more heavily into the retail end of the business, and within that, more heavily into automotive service.
The company does some wholesaling in addition to its commercial business, he added.
East Scarborough-based Superior Tire celebrated 60 years in business by saying a change is for the best. In this case, part of the anniversary festivities included oil changes for 60 cents for first-time Superior customers.
There are six Superior stores—five in the greater Toronto area. Plans are in the works for more, the company said. Superior Tire sells BFGoodrich, Goodyear, Michelin, Pirelli, Toyo, Bridgestone, Firestone and Uniroyal brand tires.