While managing a retread plant the past few years for a Florida tire dealer, Ron McAlpine and a customer got talking about new possibilities.
In August 2003, Mr. McAlpine and that customer, Steve Stafford, co-owner of Tiresoles of Broward Inc., got together along with Mr. Stafford's partner Charlie Rigl and founded Tiresoles of Jacksonville L.L.C.
The new partners were able to get into business right away by taking over the retreading assets of and leasing the plant premises from Tire Remanufacturing Inc., a Goodyear dealership in Jacksonville, Mr. McAlpine said.
The move not only put Mr. McAlpine in business for himself, it also benefited Messrs. Rigl and Stafford, whose Lake Worth, Fla., retread plant was undersized. They sold the equipment to Tiresoles of Jacksonville and moved it into the plant in Jacksonville. ``There was no room for expansion,'' Mr. Rigl said of the old plant. ``This was an opportunity; it's a new market.''
Mr. McAlpine, who is not an owner of the Broward business, said the arrangement works out both ways. ``The good thing about it is we do all their retreading for them,'' he said.
Mr. Rigl said while Tiresoles of Broward no longer operates a retread plant, the future possibility of having another isn't closed. ``Never's a long time,'' he said. ``We do not have any plans right now.''
Tiresoles of Broward is a separate dealership with three commercial locations, in Fort Pierce, Lake Worth and Pompano Beach, Fla.
Tiresoles of Jacksonville runs a commercial location along with the retread plant. The company reported 2003 sales of $1.2 million and projects sales of $4 million this year-its first full year in business. The dealership, a Goodyear retreader, averaged 180 units per day in 2003. It sells Continental, Dunlop, General, Goodyear and Kelly truck tires.
But while Tiresoles of Jacksonville gains steam, it's entering a competitive market. Mr. Rigl said like many other commercial tire dealers, Tiresoles of Broward is hoping that first quarter numbers show some signs of improvement. Higher insurance costs and other expenses have tightened margins for many dealers.
``There's a lot of competition. There's probably a little less business, and expenses in those fields are up considerably, and it's very difficult to maintain your profit margin.''
Tire Remanufacturing still exists, Mr. McAlpine said, but per the agreement it can't participate in the tire business any longer.