Tire importer and distributor Orteck International Inc. has acquired Metro Tire Wholesaler of Rockville, Md., and is planning a push into the retail market with up to 20 ``upscale'' stores in the Washington, D.C., metro area within three years.
These activities coincide with plans by Orteck to expand its offerings of tires from China and India, according to Sonny Veen, executive vice president of purchasing.
Orteck, a privately held importer and distributor of primarily Chinese and Indian tires since the mid-1990s, has been planning a move into wholesale and retail for about two years, Mr. Veen said.
The acquisition of Metro Tire brings with it a 50,000-sq.-ft. warehouse and two commercial tire centers, also in Rockville. Metro Tire is a multi-brand dealership that will continue to operate as Metro Tire, although the addition of Orteck's resources will allow it to grow faster and expand in the Maryland, Virginia and D.C. areas, according to Vernon Keuhene, vice president.
The acquisition cost was not disclosed.
On the retail side, Orteck plans to open its first Fast Lane Tire & Auto store Jan. 1 in Rockville and has three more sites picked out for 2006, Mr. Veen said. The first outlet is a 3,000-sq.-ft., 14-bay store targeted at affluent clientele in the D.C. metro area, Mr. Veen said.
It's designed to fit into the upscale neighborhood and will feature a number of amenities to attract the higher-end customer with comfortable waiting areas, Internet access and free shuttle services, he said, with particular attention to female customers, either on their own or with children.
A key element of the concept is to be able to compete head to head with new car dealerships, which have been retaining an increasing share of their customers for tire and undercar services with enhanced programs tailored to that purpose, Mr. Veen said.
Orteck has hired Ted Wielespki, previously with Merchant's Inc. for 15 years, to head up the retail initiative.
Although Orteck did not disclose its investment in the new retail outlet, Mr. Veen said it was considerably more than one might budget for a new store because of its location, architectural design and interior appointments.
Regarding its traditional import amd distribution business, Orteck said it is investing a ``substantial'' amount in new molds and equipment at its contract manufacturing plants in China and India to expand the range of Vesta, Tribune and Indus brand tires it markets in North America.
By year-end 2006 the company will be offering more than 200 SKUs in passenger, light truck, medium truck, farm, industrial and OTR/ earthmover sizes, he said. Interested parties must order container loads.
In addition, Orteck is planning a tire/wheel assembly warehouse near the port in Tianjin, China, for making assemblies for trailers, ATVs, lawn/garden equipment, etc.