SAINT JOHN, New Brunswick (May 6, 2003)—Coast Tire & Auto Service Ltd., is opening a retail/commercial outlet in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and is eyeing three more stores this year in the Maritime provinces.
The Saint John-based dealership now operates 22 locations—including a Next-Tred retread plant and warehouse—and plans to continue growing its commercial business, said President Ron Outerbridge. He said the five-bay Yarmouth store will start out as a retail location for a year, then add commercial accounts.
He declined to discuss the three pending sites, but noted that “most of the markets we're looking at are combination (retail/commercial) stores.” At the same time, Coast Tire has added two bays each at its Bathurst and Moncton, New Brunswick, outlets as part of a renovation project that will affect more than half of its locations this year, he said.
Coast Tire is renovating its show- rooms, training its employees and recently received ISO certification for both its retail and commercial operations. All of these actions are part of the dealership's bid to grow in its market.
“We're trying to be the leader,” Mr. Outerbridge explained. “We're picking up commercial customers based on our service and our dedication, I hope. We're just trying to approach the market a little bit differently.”
Coast Tire also purchased a 10,000-sq.-ft. warehouse in Moncton located across the street from its retread plant, as well as added another 10,000 square feet to an existing warehouse.
Mr. Outerbridge, who purchased majority ownership in Coast Tire a year ago from founder Malcolm Baxter, noted that business has been growing for the dealership as many smaller competitors in his market have been squeezed out by high insurance costs.
“We see some of those guys closing down, and we see ourselves picking up a good share of that business,” Mr. Outerbridge said. “We're trying to take a real professional approach to the marketplace—trying to be the best at what we do.”
Coast Tire also is partly owned by Goodyear Canada, which bought a 49-percent stake in the dealership a year ago at about the same time Mr. Outerbridge took over as majority owner. The dealership carries Goodyear, Dunlop, Kelly, General, Hankook and Yokohama brands and posted $22.6 million in sales in 2002, with commercial/retreading accounting for half of this.
Besides growing in Canada, the company also may make a “natural progression” into Maine, though it has nothing definite planned, Mr. Outerbridge said.
“Most of our customer base operates on both sides,” he said, noting that some forestry and petroleum accounts have significant operations across the border. “It's something that we've all got on our radar screen.”