AKRON (April 13, 2009) — Canada's Kal Tire was North America's largest commercial tire dealership again last year, according to Tire Business' annual survey of the commercial tire segment, but No. 2 Southern Tire Mart L.L.C. will close the gap this year following its late 2008 acquisition of Mileage Masters of Tulsa, Okla.
Vernon, British Columbia-based Kal Tire claimed the top spot for the third straight year with 2008 sales of $546 million. The top dealership and retreader rankings are in Tire Business' April 13 issue and will be online soon.
Columbia, Miss.-based Southern Tire Mart was a solid No. 2 — and No. 1 among U.S. dealers by a wide margin — with sales of $420 million. Its revenues could grow by $50 million or more this year, based on the consolidation of Mileage Masters, which operates 11 commercial outlets and three Bandag retread plants in Oklahoma and Arkansas, and organic growth.
The Mileage Masters outlets began flying the Southern Tire Mart banner Nov. 1, said Keven Haddox, who has been managing the integration of Mileage Masters into Southern Tire Mart.
Southern Tire closed the deal for Mileage Masters after Mike Hamsher, former president of Mileage Masters, made it known he was looking for an opportunity to sell his 24-year-old dealership. Terms were not disclosed.
Mr. Hamsher stayed with Southern Tire after the sale to run the Tulsa outlet. Southern Tire Mart already serviced most of Mileage Masters' area, but both parties said the buyout seemed to make sense..
“I just felt like we were a small guy with not a lot of growth opportunities,” he told Tire Business of the deal.
The deal also strengthened Southern Tire Mart's retreading business, already the largest independent operation in North America with more than 16 million pounds of tread rubber consumed last year. Mileage Masters' three plants were turning out 500 units daily among at the time of the sale to Southern Tire Mart.
About half of the 50 top dealerships reported higher sales in 2008 than in 2007 despite the drop in economic activity in the fourth quarter. About a dozen dealers reported lower sales.
Likewise, more than three-fourths of the 50 largest truck tire retreaders reported either no change or higher production last year than in 2007, with only eight reporting declines.
New to the top 50 commercial dealerships rankings this year are:
+ Pneus Belisle Inc. of Boucherville, Quebec, with $32 million in commercial sales through 13 outlets in Quebec.
+ Coast Tire & Auto Service Ltd. of Saint John, New Brunswick, with $27.6 million in commercial sales through 20 outlets in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
+ Graham Tire of Sioux Falls, S.D., and Spencer, Iowa, with $25.8 million in commercial sales through 20 outlets in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota.
Disappearing from the list were Tirecraft Ltd., which went bankrupt last year, and White Tire L.L.C. of Roanoke, Va., whose activities are now reported as part of Bridgestone Bandag Tire Solutions L.L.C.
Tire Business Senior Reporter Vera Linsalata contributed to this report.