ORLANDO, Fla. (April 29, 2009) — TBC Corp. sees “incredible opportunities” in the U.S. aftermarket to “steal market share” as other retailers struggle and fail, CEO Larry Day told 1,600 TBC retail division employees and Big O Tires Inc. franchise members gathered in Orlando.
Mr. Day did not offer specific growth projections for the company's retail business but did say the company gained market share last year while remaining profitable. TBC has opened more than 40 stores since last September and in the last several weeks reached a milestone with the opening of its 730th company-owned retail outlet. Listen to a Tire Kingdom official discuss this milestone.
“We are in a strong cash position and have the strongest balance sheet in the industry,” Mr. Day said. He also pointed to having the resources of partner Sumitomo Corp. of America (SCOA) to back up TBC's growth plans.
“TBC is well capitalized to support your business,” he said.
TBC's retail growth will involve both its company-owned stores—Tire Kindom Inc., National Tire & Battery and Merchant's Inc. — as well as the Big O Tires franchise network, Mr. Day said.
In plotting the firm's growth, TBC will no longer differentiate between its company-owned retail stores and the firm's Big O franchise, Mr. Day said.
“No single retail channel will be more important than another,” Mr. Day told those assembled at the firm's annual retail conference. Later, he clarified that for the foreseeable future TBC intends to keep a geographical distinction between the Big O franchise network—primarily throughout the Western states—and the company retail stores.
Mr. Day said the firm's growth will include acquisitions as well as organic growth, the latter aided by the fact that commercial real estate is more affordable now than just months ago.
Bob Crostarosa, senior vice president of marketing, called the firm's strategy a “new beginning,” now that all retail units are under one umbrella, overseen by Orland Wolford, CEO and president of TBC Retail Group.
The combined retail businesses now comprise more than 1,200 stores in 40 states, Mr. Crostrarosa said, and account for approximately 8 percent of the U.S. consumer tire market.
“It's time to seize the moment,” he told those in attendance. “We intend to be the No. 1 tire and auto service retailer.”