Goodyear Gemini dealer Ehler Enterprises Inc. has expanded to seven locations in the Atlanta area with the acquisition of outlets in Loganville and Suwanee, Ga., from Hi Tech Service Inc. of Indian Trail, N.C.
The new stores, rechristened Nextire of Loganville and Nextire of Suwanee, are celebrating their grand openings under the new banner during October and November with month-long specials, according to Shawn Murray, director of retail operations and the firm's co-owner.
Ehler's five other Gemini locations-in Avondale, Decatur, Jonesboro, Marietta and Stockbridge-operate in the marketplace as the name of the town they're in followed by ``Tire & Service.'' Mr. Murray and David Ehler, founder and majority owner of the dealership, are considering using the Nextire name for all of the locations, but a change is not imminent, Mr. Murray said.
At 10 and 12 bays, the Loganville and Suwanee locations are slightly larger than the dealership's other outlets, he said. Four other stores have eight service bays and one has 10.
The acquired stores were built in 2001, so Ehler Enterprises had to make only minor changes to convert them to the Ehler format, Mr. Murray said. Ehler negotiated with the owners of Hi Tech-formerly Friend's Tire & Hi Tech Service-for about six months last year, eventually closing the deal in January.
Automotive service represents about 70 percent of the company's sales, which Mr. Murray put at about $12 million this year.
Ehler Enterprises also operates a BP Car Care outlet in Marietta, which also sells tires, according to Mr. Murray, who joined forces with Mr. Ehler in 1992 to operate the store in Decatur. At the time it was a Firestone dealership. Mr. Murray started in the tire business during the 1980s in Boston in the Firestone company store network as an automotive technician and later in store management.
Mr. Ehler's background is in the gasoline/service station business, adding the Decatur Firestone store in 1992. In 2001 Messrs. Ehler and Murray switched their primary supplier to Goodyear and began expanding the dealership, starting in 2002 with the takeovers of independent Goodyear stores in Jonesboro and Stockbridge, followed by a Goodyear company store in 2003.
Hi Tech was created in 2000 when two dealerships-Hi-Tech Service Inc. of Michigan and Merit Service Inc. of North Carolina-combined operations in what was termed then as a ``friendly merger.''
The company, which operates two stores in North Carolina and seven in Michigan, dropped the Friend's Tire part of the corporate name earlier this year.