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U.S. Autoforce buys assets of five wholesalers

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COMBINED LOCKS, Wis.—Auto parts wholesaler U.S. Autoforce has acquired the wholesale assets of five Midwest/Great Plains tire dealers—Foree Tire Distributors, Midstates Tire Distributors, Schiebout Tire, Shumaker Tire Inc. and Waukegan Tire—expanding its distribution reach by eight warehouses and its footprint further west into Colorado.

U.S. Autoforce, a unit of U.S.

Venture Inc., closed the deals for Denver-based Foree, Pella, Iowa-based Schiebout and Golden, Mo.-based Shumaker Tire's wholesale business at year-end 2012, while the deal for Rochester, Minn.-based Midstates closed in late January and the deal for Waukegan, Wis.-based Waukegan Tire's wholesale unit closed last August.

Combined Locks-based U.S. Autoforce did not disclose the value of the acquistions and declined to quantify how much in additional annual sales volume the deals represent.

As a result of the Waukegan deal, U.S. Autoforce became a Hankook-brand dealer in select markets for the first time.

U.S. Autoforce now has warehouses in nine states, serving customers in more than 20 states stretching east-west from Michigan to Colorado and north-south from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico.

Whitney Thomas, former owner of Foree Tire, continues to work for U.S. Autoforce. In a written statement posted on U.S. Autoforce's website, Mr. Thomas calls the Wisconsin firm a “family-owned company deeply committed to its customers and employees.”

Foree Tire was a family-owned company for the past 38 years. Mr. Thomas said prior to deciding to sell, the company had been thinking “how to expand our product lines and grow to meet the constantly expanding and competitive tire business.”

For Tim and Mary Gallagher, owners of Midstates Retreading and Wholesale, the sale of this business as well as of their retreading assets to Royal Tire Inc. were part of a decision to focus their attention on their retail stores in Milwaukee.

“As the tire industry continues to change on what seems to be a daily basis,” they wrote in a statement on U.S. Autoforce's website, “we've made...a hard decision” to transfer their company's wholesale passenger and light truck tire business to U.S. Autoforce.

For Waukegan Tire, U.S. Autoforce's track record of treating its employees fairly was a key factor in the family's decision to sell, according to Steve Nerheim, co-owner.

Waukegan has refocused its efforts on its retail business, which comprises two stores in Waukegan and single stores in Grayslake and Park City, Ill.

Likewise, Shumaker Tire continues to operate its combination retail/commercial/farm tire store in Golden.

U.S. Autoforce now lists 16 tire brands—BFGoodrich, Cooper, Continental, Cordovan, Dunlop, General, Goodyear, Kumho, Michelin, Omni, Pirelli, Radar, Toyo, Uniroyal and Yokohama—among the products it carrries.

To reach this reporter: bdavis@crain.com; 330-865-6145.

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