East Bay Tire Co. will open its fifth warehouse in January after a three-year process to select, buy and plan the 82,000-sq.-ft. building on 10 acres along State Route 99 in Fresno, Calif.
About 30,000 square feet of the building will house a commercial center-replacing another facility in Fresno-and the company said it will erect a 110-foot sign facing the highway to advertise various promotions and suppliers. East Bay employs 16 in Fresno, but that could go to about 50 over the next 12 months.
East Bay operates three other warehouses in California and one in Hawaii and as well as six commercial centers in California. The Fairfield-based company distributes Michelin, Bridgestone, Continental, General, Carlisle, Titan and Goodyear brands of commercial and industrial tires, among others. The company was founded in 1946.
Since the new building will take up only about half of the large parcel, East Bay CEO George Pehanick said a Starbucks and other shops will locate onto the site as well, making it a ``nice stop'' for customers.
The site, along the heavily traveled freeway, is a very desirable location, Mr. Pehanick said. It gives East Bay Tire a base in the center of the state, sandwiched between other warehouses in north and south California, and the Fresno area is growing as it is one of the few remaining areas in the state that is still affordable, he added.
``A freeway location with huge visibility...is just priceless,'' Mr. Pehanick said.
Since the spot was undeveloped land, however, the approval process dragged on.
``Whenever you're taking a piece of raw land and developing it, there's just a lot of moving parts,'' he said.
With the new warehouse nearly complete, East Bay also is looking to expand the passenger/light truck side of its wholesale business. East Bay specializes in farm, industrial, truck, lawn and garden and similar tires, but in 2006 it ventured more into the passenger side with a pact to sell the VSP brand, made by Indonesia's P.T. Multistrada Arah Sarana Tbk.
At this year's Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show, Mr. Pehanick said he hopes to sign on more dealers across the country for exclusive rights to the brand. The supplier, he added, has ramped up production enough to make more commitments to dealers. The shipments will be in container loads, for which Mr. Pehanick plans to take orders at the SEMA Show.
Even on the wholesale side, Mr. Pehanick said 2007 has been the first year of the past few that he's had to play ``offense'' to grow the business.
``This year's been kind of a check for dealers,'' he told Tire Business, citing economic uncertainties, low-cost-imports and some struggling dealerships.