MOOSIC, Pa. (Jan. 6, 2003) — By late spring, Jack Williams Tire Co. Inc. plans to expand its retail operations with a stronger emphasis on high performance tires.
President and CEO Bill Williams said the Moosic-based company bought an old truck garage on the same corner as a Jack Williams store in Kingston, Pa., that had stood there since 1954. Mr. Williams' father and the company's namesake founded the dealership in 1929.
After it's renovated, the new store will boast 19 service bays and 20,000 square feet. Fifteen of those bays will be dedicated to general automotive service—up from 11 bays and 7,000 square feet at the current location—and the remaining four bays and 2,000 square feet will be reserved for high-performance service and a showroom.
“I think, really, that's where the growth of our market is going to lie,” Mr. Williams said of the high- performance sector.
He said the growth primarily will come from two major segments: young drivers who are more likely to buy used cars and customize them into “tuners,” and upper-class motorists who buy high-end sport-utility vehicles and performance cars and will pitch in a little extra for high- performance accessories and tires.
“The younger people are going for more of the tuner cars to customize them and give them their own personal touch to them,” Mr. Williams said.
With the extra space devoted to high performance, the company also is adding products, including more suspension and wheel lines, as well as accessories such as grilles, spoilers and custom lights.
After the new store is opened, the former store will be transformed into six retail shops that will share parking with the dealership's new auto center. Mr. Williams said he plans to lease the spaces to automotive-related retailers, such as stereo shops.
While Jack Williams Tire had offered some high performance products and services previously, he said the company is going to strengthen that segment and will hire and train four technicians. Some of the 11 current techs in the Kingston store also will be trained in specialized areas such as suspensions.
The center also will establish a separate high-performance sales and management team. The idea, Mr. Williams said, is to house both the retail and HP sectors under one roof but still keep them separate.
“It seems to be two completely different segments of the business,” he said. The same is true for the image of each, he said. The company hired an architectural firm to design a livelier look for the high- performance end of the auto center.
“We've gone farther on the look than we thought…but I think you need the sizzle,” Mr. Williams said.
At the same time, the retail end will have a logo that is somewhat updated but still recognizable to longtime Jack Williams customers.
“We don't want to chase all our customers away,” he said.
Mr. Williams said advertising for the retail sector will remain largely unchanged. Advertising for the HP end will be mostly in electronic and print media, with some common ads between the two sectors. The company also hopes to add a section on high performance to its Web site.
Mr. Williams said his new center faces some competition, but the other businesses are mostly independent operations that focus on specific accessories, such as stereos.
“I think we're going to go in stronger than anyone in our area now,” he said.
While he doesn't expect the high- performance centers to be as plentiful in each market as the retail locations, Mr. Williams said the company is looking at establishing high- performance centers in each of its various geographic markets. This spring, the company also plans to buy and remodel shops in Elmira, Pa., and Carlisle, Pa., but those will be strictly retail, Mr. Williams said.
The firm's retail and wholesale businesses have been its main focus since it sold two commercial operations and a retread plant to Goodyear. Jack Williams Tire operates 21 retail outlets and sells primarily Michelin, BFGoodrich, Kelly, Uniroyal, General, Dunlop, Goodyear and American Car Care Centers Inc.'s American Radial private label tires.
Mr. Williams said the firm had planned to add five shops a year, but formalities—such as rezoning and a historical district in Carlisle—may slow that pace.