Colony Tire Corp. names ad agency
DURHAM, N.C.-Colony Tire Corp. of Edenton, N.C., has named The Republik its advertising agency of record for Colony Tire & Service Centers, its retail consumer division.
Colony Tire said it has budgeted $1 million for television, radio, Internet, direct mail and newspaper advertising. The first phase of ads will appear this summer.
Ashley Aydlett, Colony Tire's marketing manager, said the company picked The Republik hoping it ``will push us right up to, or even past, our comfort level. Tire category advertising can get pretty formulaic. The Republik demonstrated a real drive to make our brand stand out as unique.''
The dealership, which employs more than 500 and has more than 30 locations in North Carolina and Virginia, said its growth plan involves opening centers outside the areas where Colony Tire is known.
Merlin Muffler changes name
GENEVA, Ill.-Merlin's Franchising Inc. has changed the name of its franchised automotive service outlets to Merlin 200,000 Mile Shops to reflect the chain's effort to help drivers get the most life from their vehicles.
The name change, from Merlin Muffler & Brake, was effective May 1, the Geneva-based company said. Merlin's is a franchised chain of 70 stores in Illinois, Georgia, Michigan, Texas and Wisconsin.
``We believe our new name explains our commitment to long-term customer relationships yet it does not confine us to specific automotive technologies,'' said Frank Smola, president of Merlin's Franchising Inc., in a prepared statement. ``It quantifies what we are trying to do for our customers, which is to help them receive the full life of their automobile.''
About 75 percent of Merlin's stores sell tires, Mr. Smola told Tire Business. Brands offered vary by stores, but they include Continental, General, Cooper, Kumho, Capital and Uniroyal.
The company plans to make tire offerings mandatory at all of its franchises by 2007.
In late 2004 the company started a lifetime tire warranty program that provides tires for as long as a customer owns his or her vehicle-with the condition that the driver performs prescribed maintenance. Mr. Smola said Merlin's still offers the warranty, and it has been successful in bringing referral business to the shops.
Mr. Smola said the tire warranty is part of the chain's overall push for helping motorists get the most life out of their cars though some customers are attracted by the warranty itself.
Belle Tire opens 79th location
SAGINAW, Mich.-Belle Tire Distributors Inc. opened its 79th store on March 27 in Saginaw, its first in that town.
The 10,000-sq.-ft. store features 10 service bays, including two alignment pits, and has a warehousing capacity of 3,500 tires and 500 custom wheels.
Jeff Kruse, the Allen Park, Mich.-based dealership's vice president, said the store is typical of other Belle locations with a ``commonality in POS (point-of-sale) message, colors, finish and theme'' used by the company. For the grand opening, Belle Tire sent 53,000 direct-mail pieces with a $20-off coupon on any purchase at the Saginaw store, Mr. Kruse said, adding that the new outlet was flooded with traffic during its first week.
``We get a real good response to (direct-mail coupons),'' he said. ``We'll be busy for weeks with those.''
The dealership also kicked off a statewide print, TV and radio campaign that advertised a grand opening sale in all of its outlets.
Belle Tire also is building two more stores in Michigan that it plans to open in 2006: in Lake Orion in July and Midland in November, Mr. Kruse said.
Manager Gary Vredewald oversees 15 employees at the Saginaw store.
Seattle dealership adds third store
SEATTLE-Affordable Tire & Brake recently opened its third Seattle location.
The new outlet is in the northwest area of Seattle and will be managed by Jason Turner.
Affordable Tire was founded 12 years ago by Tony Reeves. The second store was added six years later. The dealership is a Bridge-stone/Firestone affiliated dealer and performs automotive repair plus tire and brake service.
Tire Choice opens two Fla. stores
FORT LAUDERDALE-Hennelly Tire & Auto Inc. recently opened two more Tire Choice & Total Car Care shops in Florida, bringing its total to 10.
The stores opened in Aventura and Bonita Springs, Fla. The Aventura location was an acquisition while the Bonita Springs store is new construction.
Dan Hennelly, chairman and CEO of Hennelly Tire, said he expects to open a newly built store in Boynton Beach in June and seven more by year-end.
Mr. Hennelly, who founded the company in May 2004, said he has plans to operate 35 stores in five years.
Pep Boys unveils remodeled stores
PHILADELPHIA-Pep Boys-Manny, Moe & Jack held grand re-openings starting in late April for each of its 32 stores in the metropolitan New York, Long Island and North Jersey area.
The Philadelphia-based automotive chain said the stores have undergone a significant internal and external transformation to ``showcase Pep Boys' commitment to revitalize its unique offering of automotive parts, tires, repair and maintenance services-and more-to its customers in this area.''
The refurbishment of the stores reflects the 85-year-old company's continuing corporate revitalization project begun under the tenure of CEO Larry Stevenson. The updated stores ``focus sharply on providing customers with a wide range of basic automotive parts and accessories and name-brand tires,'' Pep Boys said. Each has been extensively remerchandised and stocked with new products ranging from power tools and generators to the latest in mobile entertainment and automotive repair equipment, the company added.
A contemporary interior design, reflecting Pep Boys' new red, white and blue corporate colors, includes multimedia displays, signage and customized areas for new product categories; store facades and exterior signage also were updated.
Pep Boys said it plans to complete the refurbishment of substantially all of its 593 stores across the U.S. and in Puerto Rico by 2008.
New Rent-n-Roll franchise opens
TAMPA, Fla.-Former minor league professional baseball player and rent-to-own veteran Les Pearsey has opened his second Rent-n-Roll custom wheels and tires franchise outlet in Bakersfield, Calif.
Mr. Pearsey, principle of Pearsey's Enterprises Inc., opened his first Bakersfield location in July 2005 and it ``has been a tremendous success,'' according to a prepared statement from Rent-n-Roll L.L.C., the Tampa-based tire and wheel rent-to-own franchise operation.
The latest store, which opened March 22, is overseen by Bill Frankhouser, a longtime Pearsey's Enterprises employee.
Larry Sutton, Rent-n-Roll president, said the firm is ``excited to be working with Les in California. His passion for this industry and reputation for success is second to none....''
Founded in 2000, Rent-n-Roll had more than 33 stores in operation at the end of 2005 and more than 147 outlets under contract.
Consolidated Tires chooses TreadX
NASHUA, N.H.-Consolidated Tires Inc. (CTI) of Greenville, S.C., has chosen ASA Tire Systems' TreadX software to improve daily productivity and inventory control.
CTI is one of the largest commercial tire retreaders in South Carolina with $29.5 million in annual commercial sales.
A Michelin Retread Technologies (MRT) retreader, CTI consumes 2.23 million pounds of rubber per year, according to Tire Business' rankings. It claims to be the largest single-shift, single plant pre-cure retreader using the MRT system in the U.S.
``We desired a GUI (graphical user interface) point-of-sale system to assist us in training and daily productivity,'' said CTI President Will Dennis. ``In that regard, we believe TreadX is the best in the market. Additionally, we believe the inventory management system will afford us many opportunities in better control, more turns and less shrinkage.''
Dave Duchesne, vice president of sales at ASA Tire, said the software firm is excited to be working with CTI, noting it has an ``impressive level of industry knowledge and experience.''
GCR Tire obtains five certifications
AUSTIN, Texas- Five more truck tire retreading facilities owned by Austin-based GCR Tire Centers have obtained ISO 9001: 2000 certifications from the International Standards Organization, bringing the number of GCR facilities with the prestigious quality management certification to 13.
The newly certified plants are in Birmingham, Ala.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Harlingen, Texas; Phoenix; and Sacramento, Calif.
Owned and operated by BFS Retail & Commercial Operations L.L.C., GCR consists of 192 commercial tire outlets and 29 retreading plants across North America.