AKRON — Growth among North America's major tire wholesalers over the past year was a mix of organic expansion and acquisitions, primarily to support larger geographic footprints and/or to enhance distribution efficiencies.
While the past year lacked any "blockbuster" landscape-altering deals, there was plenty of merger and acquisition activity on a smaller scale.
Recent changes worth noting among North American wholesalers (listed alphabetically) include:
American Tire Distributors Inc. expanded its wholesale operations in the U.S. and Canada, opening a fourth mixing center in the U.S., in Texas, and acquiring a Quebec wholesaler with four distribution centers.
ATD opened a 756,000-sq.-ft., 1 million tire-capacity mixing center in Roanoke, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and broke ground in Blakeslee, Pa., on a similar-sized facility that should be operational by the third quarter of 2018.
The Alliance Regional Mixing Center near Roanoke is ATD's first in a U.S. Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ), enabling the wholesaler to contain costs to only the inventory being removed and shipped to its U.S. distribution centers, the company said.
The facility being built in Pennsylvania's Pocono region will streamline the flow of inventory and allow ATD to improve service to its customers in the Northeast U.S. and Eastern Canada, ATD said.
Its opening will alleviate pressure on the firm's Maiden, N.C., mixing warehouse and coincide with the closure of a 400,000-sq.-ft. mixing warehouse in Findlay, Ohio.
In Canada, ATD acquired Pneus Superieurs Inc. of Quebec, expanding its network of warehouses operating under its National Tire Distributors (NTD) unit to 24.
The deal involves three distribution centers — in Boucherville, Quebec City and Sherbrooke, Quebec — which ATD said will shorten delivery times and increase product selection for customers in Quebec.
Pneus Superieurs was the wholesale arm of Pneus Belisle Inc., a Boucherville-based retailer.
The distribution centers have a combined warehousing capacity of more than 400,000 tires, according to the dealership's website.
The acquired facilities complement NTD's existing distribution centers in Quebec, in St. Laurent and Quebec City.
ATD operates more than 140 distribution centers throughout North America, serving approximately 70,000 customers in the U.S. and Canada.
Community Wholesale Tire Inc. promoted Andy Berra and Adrienne Berra — son and daughter of longtime Chairman, CEO and President Phil Berra — to president and executive vice president, respectively.
The elder Mr. Berra continues as chairman and CEO. Andy and Adrienne, who have worked fulltime with their family's company since 2006 and 2008, respectively, are the third generation of the Berra family to step into leadership roles.
Hazelwood, Mo.-based Community Wholesale Tire operates three distribution centers in Missouri, serving customers throughout an eight-state area.
Dunlap & Kyle Co. Inc.'s Gateway Tire & Service Center business is building a 200,000-sq.-ft. distribution center in Dothan, Ala., which is scheduled to be operational by next spring.
The $11 million facility, expected to create 30 jobs initially with more in the future, will be expandable to 340,000 square feet, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce.
The facility will be Gateway Tire's 17th wholesale distribution center.
Dunn Tire L.L.C.'s Exxpress Tire Delivery wholesale business opened a 75,000-sq.-ft. warehouse in Henrietta, N.Y., which replaced a smaller facility nearby that serviced the Rochester area.
The new location was built to Dunn Tire specifications and can be expanded to 115,000 square feet.
Exxpress Tire also operates warehouses in Erie, Buffalo and Syracuse, N.Y., as well as one in Pittsburgh that opened in 2016, allowing the business to expand into western Pennsylvania.
Buffalo, N.Y.-based Dunn Tire also revamped its Exxpress Car Care Centers dealer marketing program to include new tools aimed at helping members stay relevant and successful in a changing U.S. tire marketplace.
The wholesale division sold more than 1 million tires for the first time in 2016 and is projecting 17-percent growth in 2017, as the dealership introduces the program to the Pittsburgh market.
Dunn Tire has 42 Exxpress Car Care dealers operating 49 points of sale. The company said it is looking to double the number of locations in the next year, including new dealers in the Pittsburgh market.
Groupe Touchette Inc. opened a distribution center in Halifax, Nova Scotia — the company's 30th distribution center in Canada — to serve the Atlantic region.
This new distribution center, which represents a $1 million investment, spans more than 21,000 square feet and can warehouse close to 30,000 tires, according to Groupe Touchette.
Icahn Enterprises L.P.'s Pep Boys – Manny, Moe & Jack business initiated wholesale distribution in the Memphis, Tenn., area through its acquisition of Mathis Tire & Auto Service/Direct Tire Distributors. The acquisition primarily strengthened Pep Boys' retail business with a dozen stores in the area but also included a 6,000-unit warehouse.
Pep Boys' wholesale business is known as Pep Express, which operates through one national and four regional distribution centers, which in turn distribute tires and a variety of automotive parts through a network of 48 "superhubs."
K&M Tire Inc. acquired the wholesale business of Great Bend, Kan.-based Becker Tire & Treading Inc., expanding Delphos, Ohio-based K&M's network to 21 distribution centers in 12 states.
K&M has two other distribution centers in Kansas, in Kansas City and Wichita.
K&M also promoted Cheryl Gossard to president and named company founder Ken Langhals CEO, a new position, effective Jan. 1, 2018.
Lucy's Tire Co. opened a distribution company in Porriño, Spain, hometown of Lucy's Tire President José Ríos, handling primarily Bridgestone Corp. and Continental A.G.'s various brands.
The new company, Lucy's Tire España, also operates a car and truck service center at the site in Porriño.
Max Finkelstein Inc. opened a distribution center in Winchester, Va., to service the company's growing customer base in northern Virginia, western Maryland, southern Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
The 80,000-sq.-ft. facility, Astoria, N.Y.-based Finkelstein's 14th distribution center, will alleviate pressure on the distributor's Hanover, Md., facility, which has been servicing much of the targeted area, the company said.
Omni United (S) Pte. Ltd. hired former Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. executive Phillip Caris to be executive director of its U.S. businesses, which include private brand and wholesale tire distribution activities.
Omni United said Mr. Caris' key areas of focus will include acquiring new companies and consolidating Omni's U.S. businesses, which comprise 24 warehouses serving a network of more than 10,000 dealers spanning eight states in the west and south regions.
Sullivan Tire and Auto Service acquired Tom Lyons Tire & Auto Service in Waltham, Mass., including the dealership's 15,000-sq.-ft. wholesale warehouse and distribution facility.
TBC Corp.'s Carroll Tire Co. wholesale business acquired Sandone Tire Co.'s wholesale division in Dunmore, Pa., as part of the business' expansion to 58 locations nationwide.
Tire Group International L.L.C. (TGI) secured the exclusive U.S. distribution rights to the Atlas brand of passenger, light truck and commercial tires and opened a sales and distribution office in Tampa, Fla., to support the expansion of its domestic wholesale tire business into central Florida.
TGI launched the Atlas brand — originally developed in the 1930s by Standard Oil Co. for tires and batteries — on a wide-scale basis in early 2017 with a nostalgia-themed marketing campaign, featuring posters and video clips of Atlas advertising from the 1960s and 1970s.
TGI also hired Sean Denny, a Florida marketing professional, to be territory manager in the Tampa office.
Tire Rack Inc. changed the name of its wholesale business to TR Wholesale Solutions in order to "more accurately describe what is being offered by this team."
The new name/identity "more aptly describes the comprehensive solutions that we can provide and are looking forward to further developing for our wholesale customers," according to Mark Veldman, president and CEO of the wholesale arm.
TR Wholesale Solutions operates nine distribution centers, which collectively span 2.5 million square feet of space.
Tire Wholesale Warehouse, a Bridgestone Americas business, opened six distribution centers in the past year, expanding to 37 warehouses across the country.
U.S. AutoForce acquired the assets of Wellborn Tire Group, a San Antonio, Texas-based wholesale tire business. The acquired location became U.S. AutoForce's fourth warehouse in Texas and 22nd overall.
In addition, Indian tire makers Ceat International Ltd. and MRL Ltd. established U.S. sales offices to support their expanding customer bases in North America.