The 30-outlet Mountain View Tire & Service Inc. chain will grow by three to six new stores next year.
Its 30th store, in La Quinta, Calif., opened in March. The Rancho Cucamonga-based company also recently sold a store in Signal Hill, Calif., to Precision Tuning.
The Mitsos family, which owns and operates Mountain View, sees a measured, steady growth rate, careful choices of locations and a dedication to serving their core area of Southern California as the keys to their success, according to Vice President Chris Mitsos.
``We'd like to do four ground-up projects in 2006, plus a couple of takeovers,'' Mr. Mitsos said. ``Having a lot of locations is a bad idea if they're bad performers. We only want locations that will add to our overall business.''
On greenfield projects-in which the company finds the location and builds the store to its own specification-Mountain View works with a consultant. ``He's very tenacious and has his ear to the ground on everything,'' Mr. Mitsos told Tire Business. In looking for existing stores, he added, Mountain View has a network of people-parts representatives, tire suppliers, etc.-who will let them know about likely properties that become available.
Founded by Chris Mitsos' father, Nicholas Mitsos, in 1987, Mountain View was named for the view of the San Gabriel Mountains from the dealership's flagship store in Rancho Cucamonga.
Chris' brothers Michael and Paul are also vice presidents in the business, with their dad as president.
The company's projected 2005 sales are $43.5 million, compared with $38.6 million in sales in 2004 and $35.7 million in 2003.
In 1999, Mountain View signed a five-year contract with Goodyear and TBC Corp. to serve as owner-manager of the 17 Superior Tire stores in the Las Vegas area. After four years and closing one Superior Tire store, it opted out of its contract in January 2003, deciding it was best to refocus on its core business.
A member of the Goodyear G110 national buying group, Mountain View carries what it calls the ``G3'' group of tires-Goodyear (65 percent of its tire business), Republic (20 percent) and Dunlop (15 percent). All of its outlets are company-owned and strictly retail. About 55 percent of the company's business is in auto service, a percentage Chris Mitsos said is holding steady. Mountain View performs all major forms of auto service, including lube and oil, exhaust, brakes, wheel alignment, air conditioning, shocks/struts, tune-ups and transmission.
Chris Mitsos said Mountain View is feeling the effects-like every other dealership-of higher fuel prices and competition from auto dealers entering the tire market.
``The other day on the radio, I heard a Ford commercial promising that if customers could find cheaper tires, Ford dealers would match those prices on any tires they sell,'' he said.
As for gas prices, he said they were affecting not only Mountain View's tire margins but the buying power of customers as well.
While fuel may be an ongoing concern for customers, the dealership's gotten a lot of miles to the gallon from its motorsports involvement. Chris Mitsos told Tire Business Mountain View owns a ``beautiful '63 Vette'' which it races in the National Hot Rod Association's Competition Eliminator category in a class called A/A (A-Altered). There is nothing remotely stock or original about it. ``It has been solely built for the quarter mile,'' he continued, where the Corvette runs 6.57 seconds at 212 mph.
Mr. Mitsos said the dealership is the sole sponsor of the car and has been in the racing game for five years. ``My dad Nick fulfilled a lifelong dream of drag racing on the big stage. Our driver's name is Vinnie DeCeglie. He has been a Mountain View employee since 1990. He is kind of like a fourth son of Nick's.''
The dealership travels to 17 races per year in venues including Sonoma and Pomona, Calif., Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz., Indianapolis, Chicago, New Orleans, Denver and Englishtown, N.J. Last year its car finished fifth in national points standings in the Comp Eliminator category. ``We are currently 16th nationally and tied for first place in the Pacific Division with three races to go,'' Mr. Mitsos reported.
The Mountain View team has won five races in the last three years and has been to a total of nine final rounds in that time period. He also noted that in November 2003 ``we made the cover of National Dragster (magazine) after winning the Auto Club of Southern California World Finals in Pomona that same year.''
For its racing efforts the company maintains what he described as a ``pretty cool'' Web site: www.mountainviewracing.com.
Tire Business Managing Editor Sigmund J. Mikolajczyk contributed to this report.