And Justin Pennington said the experience has lived up to his expectations.
"Two of the three locations were existing shops, so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect," said the younger Mr. Pennington, a web developer who also owns Ceetus West Inc., a global web development company that focuses on IBM Corp.'s e-commerce platform, WebSphere Commerce. He is working on Sports Endeavors Inc.'s websites such as soccer.com; store.FIFA.com; lacrosse.com; and WorldRugbyShop.com.
His dad's experience in the business helped to convince him that tires and auto service are a sound investment.
"My dad has seen a lot of shops over the years," the younger Mr. Pennington said. "He has the first-hand knowledge to know what to look for, everything from finding a shop that is big enough where the employees don't feel cramped or crowded, but small enough where we aren't wasting money on utilities heating empty space."
Rex Pennington began his journey in the tire and auto service industry right out of high school in 1973, changing tires at a Goodyear-owned store in Medina, Ohio. By 1976, he was certified as an auto service technician, and eight years later, he was a certified master auto service technician.
After six years at Goodyear, the elder Mr. Pennington joined Richard Ellwood's dealership, which had a location in Mentor and another in Strongsville, Ohio. When the Strongsville location was sold to Firestone, Rex Pennington began a run of working for several companies.
He spent time with Bridgestone's Firestone retail store network and BP ProCare in various Northeast Ohio locations, before joining Terry's Tire Town.
"I loved working there," Mr. Pennington said. "I thought, 'This was it.' I thought I'd work there until I retired."
Mr. Pennington had been promoted to manage all retail operations when American Tire Distributors Inc. (ATD) acquired Terry's Tire Town in 2014.
He then joined Great Lakes Best One Tire, where he was helping a friend and shop owner, James Brott, oversee the Massillon store.
In the meantime, Mr. Ellwood, still the owner of the shop in Mentor, where Mr. Pennington once worked, was looking to sell.
This seemed to be the ideal opportunity.
The younger Mr. Pennington said the only other person he consulted about the purchase was his brother, Jason Pennington, an engineer at Northrop Grumman Corp., a global security firm in Dayton, Ohio, that services industries including underseas, aerospace and cyberspace.
"My dad is not a risk-taker, and I tend to be willing to take more of a risk," Justin Pennington said. "My brother is not as conservative as my dad, so he was essentially the tiebreaker.
"If he thought the tire business was too risky to get involved with, I would have been more likely to back out. However, he was all for it."
The deal was consummated over lunch. It took five days for the younger Mr. Pennington to become owner of a tire dealership and Rex Pennington to become Justin Pennington's most valued employee.
"My dad has been in the business for over 40 years, and we talked about opening our own store off and on for awhile," the younger Mr. Pennington said. "We were really close to starting something of our own about a year before we actually opened, but the deal fell through," the younger Mr. Pennington said.