AKRONConsolidation continues to be the watchword in the tire wholesaling segment, with American Tire Distributors Holdings Inc.'s (ATD) northward expansion into Canada headlining the changes over the past year.
ATD's acquisitions of Tri-Can Tire Distributors and Regional Tire Distributors established Charlotte, N.C.-based ATD as one of Canada's largest wholesalers and easily topped the list of strategic moves over the past 12 months.
ATD's presence in Canada now comprises 15 distribution centers stretching coast to coast and generating more than $400 million in annual revenue. The company has pledged to keep building its presence in Canada both organically and via acquisition.
Not that ATD's competition in Canada has been standing still, though. (For more wholesale news, visit tirebusiness.com/wholesalers.)
Atlas Tire Wholesale Inc., for instance, recently broadened its scope with a new distribution center in Edmonton, Alberta, and the owners of two key western Canada ditributorsBrad Kirk of Kirk's Tire of Lethbridge, Alberta, and Allen Ambrosie of Trail Tire Distributors Ltd. of Edmontonrecently agreed to become partners in the Integra Tire retail marketing program to help boost business.
The other big mover of the past year was auto parts wholesaler U.S. Autoforce, which acquired the wholesale assets of five Midwest/Great Plains tire dealerships, adding eight warehouses and expanding its distribution reach further west into Colorado.
Combined Locks, Wis.-based U.S. Autoforce acquired Foree Tire Distributors, Midstates Tire Distributors, Schiebout Tire, Shumaker Tire Inc. and the wholesale business of Waukegan Tire over a five month period in late 2012.
U.S. Autoforce also launched RightTire.com, an online tire-buying service aimed at consumers. The site directs potential customers through a tire purchase and then recommends a nearby installerwho of course is a customer of U.S. Autoforce.
Another transaction of note: Albert Tire Inc. of West Deptford, N.J.which marked its 90th year in business last yearwas acquired last December by Bennett Capital Partners L.L.C. for $40 million. Albert Tire Vice President John Casey was named CEO.
A number of distributors took the expansion route, including Bridgestone Americas' Tire Wholesale Warehouse business unit, which is in the process of opening warehouse distribution centers in San Jose, Calif., Salt Lake City and San Antonio.
These moves will expand the unit's reach to 14 locations, broadening its presence westward considerably. Bridgestone/TWW declined to comment specifically on its reasons for choosing these locations or to elaborate on their size, etc.
TWW originally was the wholesale distribution arm of Morgan Tire & Auto Inc. prior to Bridgestone's purchase of Morgan Tire in 2001.
Jack Williams Tire Co. expanded its wholesale business' reach earlier this year by adding a warehouse in Northern New Jersey, to improve service to a growing customer base in the area.
The new warehouse, the company's 11th in a three-state area, will allow Jack Williams to provide hot shot delivery service to customers in north and central New Jersey and the greater New York City metro area, according to Scott Williams, president.
This is a territory that's drastically in need of a distributor that provides excellent service, he said earlier this year.
On another front, Zurcher Group/Best One Tire has developed a branded marketing program for associate dealers, called B1 Advantage, to be used alongside the group's long-standing Best One identity. The Best One identity continues to be used by those dealerships that are part of the Best One ownership constellation.
The B1 Advantage program has been in development for several years, but has really come to the fore in the past year with a dedicated website and growth of the network to 53 locations.
The program is most advanced in the Northeast, where Merrimack, N.H.-based Motostar Tire & Auto Products has converted nearly all of the Best One dealers throughout New England and mid-Atlantic states to the B1 Advantage identity.
There also are 18 B1 locations throughout the Midwest and 18 throughout the Southeast, according to the Best One and B1 websites.
To reach this reporter: [email protected]; 330-865-6145.