NORCROSS, Ga. — Three years after being acquired by a venture capital firm, Alloy Wheel Repair Specialists L.L.C. (AWRS) is ramping up a U.S. growth strategy that includes expanding the target audience into the retail tire and auto repair sector and building a network of company-owned locations in larger metro areas to complement its franchised units.
To that end, AWRS recently hired a pair of auto aftermarket veterans, Jason Yarbrough and Mike Perkins, to handle franchise relations and business development, respectively.
The company, which claims to be the world's largest full-service alloy wheel repair and replacement firm, operates through roughly 100 franchisees in 46 U.S. states and 20 more internationally, including five in Canada.
Soundcore Capital Partners L.L.C., a New York-based private equity firm that invests in lower middle market businesses, acquired AWRS in November 2015. The firm called wheel repair one of the fastest-growing sub-sectors within the auto-reconditioning market, accounting for more than $750 million in annual revenues in the U.S. alone.
Soundcore moved quickly, acquiring eight franchises in key markets in the intervening nine months. Among them was the franchise in Baltimore, which was headed by Rob Wheeley, whom Soundcore then brought in-house and installed as CEO of AWRS, which has been in business since 2001.
The capital investment firm also at that time appointed a pair of auto aftermarket industry veterans — Ken Walker, a former CEO of Meineke Car Care Centers, Driven Brands Inc. and Parts Inc., and Bill Lasky, a senior executive with Stoneridge Inc., Accuride Corp. and Affinia Group Inc. — to its board of directors. Mr. Laskey assumed the board chairmanship.
Soundcore then secured $42.5 million in financing in March 2016 through Monroe Capital L.L.C. "to support the acquisition and future growth initiatives" of AWRS.
At about the same time, former American Tire Distributors Inc. CEO William Berry joined Soundcore as an operating partner, tasked with providing management and operating expertise to Soundcore's portfolio companies, with a focus on specialty distribution and business services.