Heading into its 30th year in business, Tire Tracks is gearing up for an expansion that could double the size of the dealership in the next few years.
Tire Tracks, a Tire Alliance Groupe (TAG) member with 12 retail stores throughout northern Illinois, is opening stores in Sterling and Rochelle, Ill., in early November and has two or three more on the drawing board for next year and beyond, according to Perry Walker, who founded the dealership in 1978.
If all goes according to plan, Tire Tracks could be up to 18 stores in the next couple of years, he said.
The new stores are both in converted buildings, a former Subaru car dealership in Rochelle and a former carpet showroom/warehouse in Sterling. The stores are about 30 miles apart and help bridge the gap in coverage between most of the dealership's outlets along the I-80 corridor and the Rockford store about 50 miles further north, Mr. Walker said.
Both new stores are in smaller (10,000 to 15,000 population) towns that are typical of most Tire Tracks outlets, Mr. Walker said. The exceptions are the headquarters location in Joliet and the Rockford store.
To accommodate the growth and improve services at the existing dozen stores, Tire Tracks also is putting in new computer and phone systems, Mr. Walker said, which he anticipates in the long run will produce thousands of dollars in savings from improved efficiencies.
The changes also include new showroom designs to take advantage of the new technology, he added.
Tied to these changes, the dealership is launching a Web site, www.tiretracksinc.com, which should be active about the same time the new outlets are opened.
Besides being a longtime member of TAG, Tire Tracks participates in four marketing programs-Bridgestone/Firestone Affiliated Dealer, ContiGold, Goodyear G3, and Michelin Alliance.
The business, which was known as Walker Tire through 1984, generated $8 million in sales last year, split 75/25 retail/wholesale, with the retail revenue split 50/50 between tires and automotive service.