GAINESVILLE, Va.The Hybrid Shop (THS), a network of hybrid vehicle service centers, has partnered with Monro Muffler Brake Inc. to incorporate its hybrid vehicle maintenance and repair service into four Monro outlets in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.
The deal comes less than two months after Monro's acquisition of Gainesville-based Curry's Auto Service Inc., including the dealership's 10 stores in the D.C. area. Prior to the deal, which closed in August, Curry's Auto was owned by THS co-founder and CEO Matt Curry and his wife Judy Curry.
I'm out of the automotive repair business as an automotive repair guy, but the timing worked out really well, Mr. Curry told Tire Business. I've been working on The Hybrid Shop for about a year now, coming up with a business plan and making sure the technology worked.... (Monro) approached me and we were able to work out a deal, so now I'm full time on The Hybrid Shop.
THS, which launched at the end of April, initially was formed as a joint venture between Curry's and Port Angeles, Wash.-based technical education and training firm Automotive Research & Design (AR&D) L.L.C. Mark Quarto, one of AR&D's founders and Mr. Curry's partner in THS, is the firm's chief technology officer. He also is the inventor of its Battery Discharger Unit, which is able to recondition hybrid battery packs and restore them to up to 95 percent of their original power.
Through implementing THS' services, Monro now can offer hybrid-electric vehicle care and services, giving owners of these types of vehicles an alternative to purchasing new, replacement batteries, which can cost upwards of $4,000.
Mr. Curry said that part of its purchase agreement for Curry's Auto involved Monro committing to opening at least three THS service centers in addition to the one they acquired with Curry's Gainesville store. While nothing is set in stone, Mr. Curry said he is confident that Monro intends to open more THS centers over time.
We're excited that Monro, a publicly traded company with 950 locations, saw the value and the technology in what we're offering, Mr. Curry said. It's going to offer a huge opportunity for The Hybrid Shop for additional locations. I think it gives us a lot of credibility, and it's going to help us establish a bigger network of dealers.
Monro did not disclose details of the purchase agreement but said the Curry's Auto stores generate about $18 million in sales annually, with approximately 80 percent coming from auto service and 20 percent tires.
Mr. Curry told Tire Business earlier in 2013 that he envisioned THS as a fractional franchise program that would provide participating dealers with new hybrid vehicle-related revenue streams, such as:
c Battery conditioning and rebuilding;
c Motor-generator testing, diagnosis and replacement;
c Power inverter and control system testing; and
c A variety of other services. The business is the first and only enterprise of its kind, he said, adding that THS offers the complete package for its dealers.
Nobody has the training that we do. We have experts who will teach you how to work on everything on a hybridnot just the battery, but we can teach you to diagnose, service, maintain and repair everything on a hybrid vehicle, he said.
The THS program requires an initial sign-up fee of $50,000, which includes the necessary equipment along with four days of onsite training and five days of training with the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) for hybrid service qualification. Program members also receive point-of-sale materials, Mr. Curry said.
After the initial fee, dealers are required to pay a fee of $125 per battery charge.
Mr. Curry said there are 10 existing THS service centers in addition to the three that Monro has agreed to launch, but the company expects to grow that number to between 75 and 100 by this time next year.
THS will be presenting its hybrid battery pack conditioning service at the 2013 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show, taking place Nov. 5-8 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The firm will exhibit at booth 10167 in the North Hall.
The show will mark the beginning of THS' pursuit of growth outside the U.S., Mr. Curry said.
We're launching internationally at SEMA because we're getting requests from Germany, Australia, Pakistan.... We're getting inquiries every day from all over the world, and also a ton from California, he said.
The company soon will go full speed with its marketing, which Mr. Curry said will include traditional forms of advertising along with an active social media presence. In addition, the company recently put $150,000 into building a new website, which Mr. Curry said should launch within the net few weeks.
We intend to own Internet real estate on everything hybrid, he said.
To reach this reporter: [email protected]; 330-865-6148.