Fountain Tire buys Plains Tire
EDMONTON, Alberta-Fountain Tire has bought Plains Tire in Gilbert Plains, Manitoba, giving the Edmonton-based Goodyear dealership a foothold in western Manitoba.
Plains Tire, which has one outlet in Gilbert Plains, was founded almost 40 years ago and has been a dedicated Goodyear dealership for about 20 years.
Nelson Tonn, Fountain's director of marketing, said the compatible brands plus the location were the prime interest points in the acquisition.
``We didn't have a presence in that marketplace,'' he said of the region in Manitoba.
He added that Fountain Tire was founded in 1956 to serve primarily farming communities. The dealership currently sells passenger, light truck, farm, off-the-road, industrial and retread tires. Fountain Tire now operates 146 total retail stores plus eight retread locations.
Mr. Tonn said the Gilbert Plains store will change its name to Fountain Tire this summer. Other expansion plans remain fluid, he said. ``We are always looking for strong opportunities such as this.''
Orest Romaniuk, former Plains Tire owner, said he plans to retire.
TireStarz broadens reach at meeting
NEW ORLEANS-About 20 tire dealers are considering joining the TireStarz USA marketing program following a University Wholesale Inc. and Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire (BFNT) dealer meeting in New Orleans in March, company officials said.
About 725 dealers participate in the program, said Bill Pace, manager of TireStarz. While he said the number of interested candidates was ``phenomenal,'' Tire-Starz does not have any specific recruitment goals.
``We are looking for quality more so than for quantity,'' he said.
One new TireStarz distributor, Grismer Tire Co. in Dayton, Ohio, celebrated its 70th anniversary during the dealer meeting. The 21-outlet dealership sells Michelin, Bridgestone, Dayton, Nokian, Kelly, BFGoodrich, General, Uniroyal, Continental and Falken brands as well as Bandag retreads.
Robert Hepp, president of Colchester, Vt.-based University Wholesale, said a rallying point for dealers at the meeting was the presence of many Bridge-stone/Firestone high-ranking officials, including John Lampe, Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. chairman, CEO and president; Mark Emkes, chairman, CEO and president of BFNT; and John Gamauf, Bridgestone/Firestone vice president, consumer tire dealer sales.
``Obviously Bridgestone/Firestone is currently being run by people who are tire people,'' Mr. Hepp said.
Also at the dealer meeting, Bridgestone/Firestone officials announced new sizes for the Bridgestone Potenza RE950 and the Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 tire lines.
Marketing plans, including a current Bridgestone brand promotion, also were discussed. A trade show gave dealers opportunities to meet with TireStarz vendors.
Mr. Hepp also said Nokian Tyres Inc. officials were on hand for the first time since TireStarz and University Wholesale started the joint dealer meetings.
Former educator opens Big O shop
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo.-Big O Tires Inc.'s network of franchises was strengthened by one in the West, when a retired elementary school principal from Washington state opened an outlet in December.
Bob Rundell opened the 5,500-sq.-ft., five-bay store in Steamboat Springs after also opening a Grease Monkey automotive service operation. Mr. Rundell said he was attracted to Big O because of the product's quality and the warranty. The outlet sells Big O, Michelin, BFGoodrich, Goodyear and Fulda brands.
Though he said business has been good, he does not plan to open more Big O outlets.
For Mr. Rundell, the tire industry is vastly different than education.
``After 30 years, it was time for a change,'' he said.
The hardest part about the transition, he said, is learning all the facets of the business of tire retailing.
``It's very complex if you have no background in it,'' he acknowledged.
Iowa dealership helps families
BOONE, Iowa-When reservists from the Boone area's aviation support units were deployed to the Persian Gulf, R&W Tire & Turf wanted to do something to help the families left behind.
Co-owner Tim Reece said the dealership decided to offer free oil changes to military families during the deployments. The dealership, which sells Firestone and Goodyear brands, had run a similar campaign when local reservists were deployed about two years ago, Mr. Reece said.
After that campaign, the business received the Governor's Award for volunteerism.
For Mr. Reece, the free oil change program drew positive feedback from his civilian customers. Though oil changes represent a large part of his six-bay outlet, Mr. Reece said his business has not been hit financially.
``It really wasn't intended to be some kind of solicitation, but they ended up buying tires or something else from us,'' he said. ``We got some good customers out of it.''