With the help of strong growth in the Pacific Northwest, Commercial Tire Inc. has added three outlets and moved a retread plant in the past year, with plans for more to follow.
The Boise-based commercial dealership added combination retail and commercial stores in Sunnyside, Wash.-acquired from Tire Sales & Service in Yakima, Wash.-and Grandview, Idaho, plus a retail-only outlet in Idaho Falls, Idaho.
Commercial Tire operates 26 commercial and retail outlets. The dealership sells Bridgestone, Dayton, Firestone, General, Kelly-Springfield and Yokohama brands.
The company also moved a Bandag retread plant to Salt Lake City from Lewiston, Idaho. The plant-the company's fourth-produces about 150 retreads a day.
President Bob Schwenkfelder said the additions are part of an extensive-and long overdue-expansion within the company's geographic region. Those plans also call for an anticipated leased commercial outlet in St. George, Utah, and a combination retail/ commercial store to be built in Boise.
``We haven't been growing in the last five years,'' Mr. Schwenkfelder said. ``We've kind of taken a spurt this year because there's been some good opportunities.''
In the next few years, he'd like to open two to three more stores as well as a new warehouse. Commercial Tire owns one warehouse and leases two others for a total of about 30,000 square feet of space. Though plans are not yet finalized, Mr. Schwenkfelder is considering consolidating under one roof.
``We just haven't made any decisions, but we definitely need a new warehouse,'' he said.
For now, Commercial Tire's expansion plans are contained in its existing region, which includes portions of Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
``Long term, Idaho's been a pretty good place for us...,'' Mr. Schwenkfelder said. ``We think there's room here for us to continue to grow.''
But the strong growth in the Northwest is no mystery to the competition, either-especially in ``Les Schwab home country,'' as Mr. Schwenkfelder put it. Prineville, Ore.-based Les Schwab Tire Centers Inc.-the largest North American commercial tire dealership, according to Tire Business statistics-reported 2002 commercial sales of $236.1 million.
Commercial Tire reported 2002 sales of $37.4 million and expects sales of $40.5 million in 2003.
``We found that we have honed out a niche to be kind of an alternate to Les Schwab in some of these areas,'' Mr. Schwenkfelder said.
Specifically, he said good service is key. His service, which includes flexible yet comprehensive fleet maintenance, is the only way to differentiate his company from other firms that just sell tires.
``We believe service is absolutely the place that you have to go,'' he said.
As the dealership plans its expansions, it also is working out details for celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, Mr. Schwenkfelder said. Possibilities include special promotions and contests though details have not yet been determined. Though the anniversary falls in a year with a questionable economy, he said that doesn't alter Commercial Tire's goals.
``We want to continue to grow,'' he said.