FINDLAY, Ohio (March 11, 2003) — Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. has bought specialty/off-road tire marketer Max-Trac Tire Co. Inc. for an undisclosed amount.
The company, which does business as Mickey Thompson Performance Tires & Wheels, is based in Stow, Ohio, and also operates its Dick Cepek off-road division in Temecula, Calif. Max-Trac designs, develops and distributes specialty tires for street, drag strip, track and off-road racing.
As part of the purchase, Cooper acquired the Mickey Thompson and Dick Cepek brands. For several years, Cooper — along with Specialty Tires of America Inc. — has supplied Max-Trac, providing specialty and off-road tires under the two brand names. Max-Trac also has provided trackside assistance for Cooper's Avon racing tires.
In a statement, Cooper said it does not have any changes planned for the company's relationship with suppliers, and the business will continue to be managed from Stow.
“We've had a great partnership for years, and now we can combine our resources for even more opportunities around the world,” said Mark F. Armstrong, president of Cooper's North American Tire Division.
Mr. Armstrong added Cooper will look for areas to use the Mickey Thompson name to promote the tire maker's image in the racing arena. The deal, combined with the recent arrangement for Johnny Unser to act as performance tire adviser to Cooper, is part of the tire maker's stated plan to expand its ultra-high performance business.
“We have an aggressive plan to grow sales in the (H-,V- and Z-rated) segments, which are the fastest-growing tire lines in the U.S. today,” Mr. Armstrong said in the statement. “And we have an even stronger presence in the radial light truck and SUV segments. This Mickey Thompson deal, with its racing and off-road connections, will help us in these efforts.”
After years of competing against each other in the marketplace, in early 2000, following the liquidation of bankrupt longtime specialty tire and accessories marketer Dick Cepek Inc., Max-Trac stepped in to acquire the 42-year-old company's assets and resurrect its well-known product lines.
At an auction of West Coast-based Cepek's holdings, privately held Max-Trac beat out two other firms with a winning bid of $1.6 million that gained it the Cepek name, its tire molds and its vehicle suspension and lighting divisions. Max-Trac also got all inventory left in Cepek's 11 retail stores and in its former Beaumont, Calif., headquarters and warehouse.
Cepek had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March 1999, but after months of unsuccessfully trying to find a buyer for the firm, the court ordered the case converted to a Chapter 7 liquidation in February 2000.
Max-Trac's founder and namesake was auto racing legend Mickey Thompson who, with his wife, Trudy, were murdered March 16, 1988, in the driveway of their Bradbury, Calif., home. A former business partner, Michael Frank Goodwin, was charged with the murder and is awaiting trial.
Max-Trac's president is Lee McMannis, whose father was a partner with Mr. Thompson in the founding of the company.