LACONIA, N.H.-A one-outlet family tire dealership served as a campaign stop Jan. 5 when Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., came by the shop to talk about rising health insurance costs.
Greg Bryar, owner of Belknap Tire Co. Inc. in Laconia, said the campaign came to his shop after he participated in a local radio show, discussing how skyrocketing insurance costs are hurting small business owners.
``It's just something that's very important for small business people,'' Mr. Bryar told Tire Business.
Despite the rising costs, Mr. Bryar still is ``biting the bullet'' to provide 100-percent health coverage for his 13 employees and their families-leaving them some co-pays but no payroll deductions. Five of the 13 employees are part of the owning family.
After the visit was over, Mr. Bryer said some reporters covering the event said they wished they worked for him.
According to local media, Sen. Lieberman discussed his platform of establishing a pool to make affordable health insurance available for everyone. The pool would be able to negotiate lower premiums and lower drug prices. He also indicated a need to reduce the rate of medical errors, cut health care administrative costs and reform medical malpractice.
Mr. Bryar said he wished companies with fewer than 20 employees were allowed to band together to negotiate lower costs.
His grandfather founded the dealership in 1946, and Mr. Bryar has worked there 37 years. The shop sells primarily Bridgestone, Firestone, Michelin, BFGoodrich, Uniroyal, Goodyear and Continental brands, among others.
Tire dealer's racing arm signs new driver
WHITEVILLE, N.C.-RBR Enterprises, a racing organization paired with Black's Tire Service of Whiteville, has signed on driver Matt Carter for 2004 as it shoots for the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Championship.
Black's Tire Service and RBR are both owned by Rick Benton, and the tire dealership serves mainly as an associate sponsor for the racing organization. The group, which continues to look for a primary sponsor and other partners, races throughout the eastern U.S., using the races as customer appreciation hospitality events.
Mr. Carter, son of NASCAR Nextel Cup team owner Travis Carter, will compete in the United Speed Alliance Racing Hooters Pro Cup Championship, shooting for the 2004 Rookie of the Year title if not the championship itself. The Hooters Pro Cup is a short-track stock car racing series active primarily on the East Coast.
In 2003, Mr. Carter, 22, won the Hickory Motor Speedway track championship.
Black's Tire Service operates 15 retail tire stores in North and South Carolina.
Goodyear dealership goes to next generation
LOS ANGELES-After leaving a teaching career to join his father's tire business in 1981, Steve Kreiger officially became owner of Crestview Service Inc. Jan. 1 when Murray Kreiger retired.
The single-outlet Los Angeles dealership formerly was named Crestview Service Center. Murray Kreiger bought the shop in 1972 from the founder, who started the business in 1950. The dealership sells primarily Goodyear products and employs five mechanics, three tire and lube technicians and office staff. Steve Kreiger's brother-in-law, Mike Graver, and mother, Renee Kreiger, also work in the business.
Murray Kreiger, 75, said he plans to get to work playing golf and baseball while squeezing in some fishing.
``Over the years I loved the business, we did very well, and I hope the boys do just as well as we did,'' he told Tire Business.
A major shift he noticed during his tenure in the tire business was the migration of customers toward discount outlets such as Costco Wholesale Corp. ``(That) took a lot of business away from us,'' he said, though he added the shop also maintained a loyal customer base.
Steve Kreiger had been a music teacher in Los Angeles public schools. But he said he could not make ends meet so he returned to the family business, working in office and sales functions.
Tire Kingdom opens new store in S.C.
JUNO BEACH, Fla.-Tire Kingdom Inc. has expanded into North Augusta, S.C., with store No. 593.
The new store opened Jan. 6. The store is the first of the new year opened by Tire Kingdom. The final tally for 2003-592 stores-is a 167-percent gain over the 222-store tally at the end of 2002.
The Juno Beach-based retailer, owned by TBC Corp., recently added 225 stores to its ranks when TBC finalized its buyout of National Tire & Battery from Sears, Roebuck and Co.