For almost a decade after its founding in Phoenix in 1986, Advanced Auto Service & Tire Centers had only two outlets, both in the city.
Today, the heavily Goodyear-oriented dealership chain has 15 company-owned outlets throughout northern Arizona and the metropolitan Phoenix area and is on track to open five new outlets in 2006 in an entirely new market-Tucson.
``Tucson is a good market for us, similar to Phoenix, although smaller,'' said Marketing Manager Larry Kottraba. ``This gives us market coverage from northern to southern Arizona and also helps us with things like distribution and delivery.''
Eventually, Advanced Auto Service hopes to expand to New Mexico and other neighboring states, he said.
The secret behind Advance Auto Service's success is a combination of excellent service, a wide range of tires and a knack for finding promising new locations, Mr. Kottraba said.
Advanced Auto Service's business is roughly 80 percent retail and 20 percent wholesale, according to Mr. Kottraba. Its one retail-wholesale store, in Phoenix, does a strong business supplying tires to auto dealerships. Even so, the entrance of car dealers into the tire market hasn't necessarily been good for Advanced Auto Service.
``Our wholesale and retail operations are two separate operations,'' Mr. Kottraba said. ``Car dealers entering the tire market has been fine for our wholesale operations, but they've kept tire sales flat at retail.''
The company, a Goodyear G110 dealership, carries Continental, Goodyear, Toyo, Republic and Sumitomo tires. Toyo is its biggest-growing brand at the moment, Mr. Kottraba said, because of its excellent quality and strong warranties at very reasonable prices.
True to its name, Advanced Auto Service has 120 service bays at its 15 locations offering lube and oil, wheel alignments, shocks and struts, tune-ups, transmission service, brake service and air conditioning service. Auto service is 50 percent of Advanced Auto Service's business and growing, Mr. Kottraba said, thanks to the company's decision to seek fleet business actively.
``Arizona is an area where there are a lot of new cars floating around,'' he said. ``You see ads all the time for used cars with less than 10,000 miles. That means a lot of cars are tied to the dealerships. But by seeking out fleet business, we're expanding our auto service operations.''
The company, headquartered in Mesa, has 130 employees, including 48 sales/counter personnel, 38 service technicians and 44 general help. He did not reveal the company's financial results.
Advanced Auto was founded by current President and CEO Paul Couture.