Fulfilling its pledge to completely exit the tire retailing business, American Tire Distributors Inc. (ATD) has sold its last store-the very first outlet opened by founder J.H. Heafner-in Lincolnton, N.C.
The retail store was purchased by Griffin Brothers Tire Sales Inc., a regional dealership with stores in the Charlotte metropolitan region, ATD said.
``The decision to sell the store founded by J. Harlan Heafner was difficult for sentimental reasons, but clearly made sense from a business perspective,'' said Richard P. ``Dick'' Johnson, ATD's president and CEO. ``Since 2001, we have focused on our core strengths of distribution and service to independent dealers because we feel that competing with our customers is unhealthy for the industry.''
The company-which changed its name last year from Heafner Tire Group to American Tire Distributors-began as a family business in 1935 at the storefront in Lincolnton. During the 1990s, Heafner continued to grow through acquisitions of distributors and retail chains including Nebraska's T.O. Haas Co. and Winston Tire Co., then California's largest tire retailing chain.
But in 2001 ATD decided to get back to its roots as a wholesale distributor, selling its Winston and T. O. Haas retail stores. That left the Lin-colnton store as its only retail outlet.
From its Charlotte-area headquarters, distribution center and regional hub, ATD operates 62 distribution centers serving dealers in 35 states.
Griffin Brothers Tire Sales, based in Cornelius, N.C., is a founding member of the Tri-State Buying Group-a coalition of dealers in North and South Carolina and Virginia that is affiliated with the Del-Nat and Tire Alliance Groupe dealer programs. The dealership, which operates five outlets, offers full automotive service, including alignments, brake service and state emission and safety inspections.
A Michelin associate dealership, Griffin Brothers sells Uniroyal, Delta and Continental brands. The company's founder, Larry Griffin Sr., opened his first tire store in 1961.