With a fourth retail store sold, the last big question for Ray Carr Tires Inc. is the future of its retreading plant-and by extension its wholesale business.
The Harrisonburg-based dealership closed a sale Dec. 31 for its Staunton, Va., store to Pamlico Corp. Terms were not disclosed.
Pamlico was recently established by Everette Carr, brother of Raymond Carr, who owns Ray Carr Tires. Since 1990, Everette Carr has been the sole owner of a Ray Carr Tires store in Waynesboro, Va., which was not affected by last year's shutdown of the other locations.
Everette Carr said he bought the Staunton location, which is about 12 miles away from the Waynesboro store, to enhance his own business.
``It's in the same market that we're already in,'' he said.
Customers have returned to the store, which has been open under the Ray Carr Tires name since Jan. 2, he added.
With three employees, including the store manager, deciding to stay with the eight-bay store, Everette Carr said he plans to add more workers soon as the volume continues to pick up.
``It's looking really positive,'' he said.
The store joins three others that were sold since the dealership closed its retail and retreading operations in November because of financial difficulties.
A store in York, Pa., was sold to Wilkes-Barre, Pa.-based McCarthy Tire and Automotive Service Centers Inc., and two stores in Charlottesville, Va., and Harrisonburg were sold to Magnolia Enterprises L.L.C., a company formed by Harrisonburg businessmen. The three stores are operating under the new ownerships, and the Magnolia stores still are under the Ray Carr Tires name.
Lee Diercks, a turnaround consultant with Clear Thinking Group of Hillsborough, N.J., said the fourth sale closes the chapter on Ray Carr Tires' seven retail outlets. Two-in Chesapeake, Va., and Waldorf, Md.-have been closed and turned over to the properties' landlords. The third sits on the same site as the company's Harrisonburg retreading plant, and the fate of both are likely to be the same, Mr. Diercks said.
But that fate is not yet clear, he said.
``There is still a real strong effort to reopen the plant and re-employ the people employed by the plant,'' Mr. Diercks said.
The key to that will be in what arrangement Ray Carr Tires can establish, he said.
If an equity lender is able to stand behind the company, Ray Carr Tires could operate the plant and shop as it had before. Other options could range from a merger to a complete buyout from another company.
``We're not dismissing any proposals at this point,'' Mr. Diercks said, adding some businesses already have expressed initial interest. He expects a resolution by mid-February.
Whatever happens to the plant is likely also to happen to Ray Carr Tires' wholesale business.
``If someone's going to take over the plant, they're probably going to take over the wholesale part as well,'' Mr. Diercks said.
But as Ray Carr Tires weighs its options, Everette Carr is looking at the possibility of growing his own business. He said he already is doing some limited commercial business the Staunton store had previously handled. Everette Carr also is looking at the possibility of picking up some wholesale business though he did not give details.
Like the Waynesboro store, the Staunton location sells Michelin, Uniroyal, BFGoodrich and Cavalier brands.