TBC in the process of phasing out the Merchant's Tire name in favor of its NTB Tire & Service Centers brand.
The company now has NTB stores in 26 states east of the Rocky Mountains, in addition to 190-plus Tire Kingdom stores in Florida.
TBC's retail presence extends further through its Big O Tires L.L.C. and Midas International franchise brands, with 447 and 1,010 outlets, respectively.
No. 6 Les Schwab Tire Centers opened five stores in the past year and continues to scout locations both within its existing footprint and in new territories outside of its traditional West Coast/Rocky Mountains domain.
Other noteworthy changes to the companies in the Top 100 include:
AAA/Club Alliance's (No. 18) reach nearly doubled to 78 locations in line with the merger of AAA Allied Group — the Cincinnati-based group that took over the Bob Sumerel retail store network in 2009 — and AAA Mid-Atlantic Inc. to form AAA Club Alliance Inc.
That merger brought 40 Eastern Seaboard AAA Car Care outlets under the control of AAA/Bob Sumerel. (See story on page 33 for more details.)
The debut of GB Auto Service at No. 27 with 47 outlets. GB Auto — a unit of Greenbriar Equity L.P. — might be new, but some of its holdings aren't: Ramona Tire Inc. of Hemet, Calif., and Tire Works Total Car Care of Las Vegas.
GB also owns Brake Max Car Care Centers of Tucson, Ariz. (See more complete story on page 25.)
Nevada Tire Holdings (No. 66), which operates as Superior Tire & Rubber Co. in the Las Vegas area, acquired most of the assets of Miracle Tire & Auto Care in Boise, Idaho, and converted the dealership's four locations to its Superior Tire brand, raising the total to 17 stores. More deals are in the works.
Belle Tire Distributors Inc. (No. 14), which added three stores in the past year to reach the century mark in outlets, said it is targeting Indiana for exponential growth through year-end 2019 with plans to open up to 20 stores there, predominantly in and around Indianapolis.
Belle has opened 10 stores in Indiana since 2015, a presence that has generated an economic impact in the Hoosier state of nearly $46 million.
Leeds West Groups (No. 15), a leading Big O Tires and Midas International franchisee, added 42 stores in one move, buying Auto Systems Experts (ASE), a Davenport, Iowa-based Midas franchisee.
Tire Discounters Inc. (No. 11) and ATV Inc. (No. 13) both added eight stores in the past year, expanding to 113 and 107 locations, respectively.
Cincinnati-based Tire Discounters Inc. also opened a warehouse distribution center in LaVergne, Tenn., in order to support its growing network of stores in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee — 14 and counti ng — and identified Knoxville, Tenn., as the next branch of its growing retail store network.
Six of ATV's eight new American Tire Depot stores were conversions of existing auto repair facilities.
4 Wheel Parts (No. 17), the retail arm of Transamerican Auto Parts Co. that debuted in 2016, continue to grow steadily, adding five locations in the past year for 89 stores as it moves toward 100 outlets in the U.S. and Canada.
The Compton, Calif.-based manufacturing, wholesaling and retailing group, part of Polaris Industries Inc., is focused on the off-road sector.
Mountain View Tire (No. 38) of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., opened one new store, in Wildomar, Calif., but has three more scheduled to open in the coming months — in Chatsworth, Menifee and Mumeta, Calif. — and plans to break ground on a fourth, in Fontana, Calif., early in 2019.
Virginia Tire & Auto (No. 78) was scheduled to open a store in Vienna, Va., and has plans to open two more stores in 2019, in Richmond and Herndon, Va., expanding the Halifax, Va.-based dealership's reach to 16 locations.
CJ's Tire & Automotive Services (No. 66) added a pair of stores by acquisition — American Tire Factory in Whitehall, Pa., and an NTB store in King of Prussia, Pa.
Max Auto Supply Co., the nation's largest Midas auto care franchisee with 113 locations in six states, has converted its corporate structure to an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP).
The Toledo, Ohio-based company, founded in 1956 by Max Katz and today is headed up by his son Randy, has more than 600 employees. The company's outlets are in Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
An ESOP is a type of employee benefit plan, similar in some ways to a profit-sharing plan. In an ESOP, a company sets up a trust fund into which it contributes new shares of its own stock or cash to buy existing shares.
Max Auto Supply declined to comment on the change, which was structured by Verit Advisors L.L.C., a Chicago-based investment banking firm.
Rob Ruszkowski, principal at Verit Advisors, said Max Auto "sees significant upside in aligning the goals of all employees to continue to perpetuate the success of Max as well as creating an excellent retirement benefit opportunity for the employees."
Two companies that have been part of the Tire Business rankings in past years — Jennings Tire Co. of Tennessee and Northwest Tire & Service Inc. of Michigan — are no longer in business.
The Top 100 includes 18 businesses, with more than 500 outlets collectively, that are franchisees: eight that fly the Big O Tires flag, two that are Car-X Tire affiliates, four that belong to the RNR Tire rent-to-own network, and two each that are aligned with Midas (including one, Leeds West Groups, which operates both Big O and Midas outlets), and Point S Tire.
By franchise identity, the dealership groups are:
Big O — Western Automotive Group, 54 stores; Golden West Tire Centers, 26 locations; MFA Oil Co., 19 outlets; SF Tire & Service Central, 17 locations; Koldenhoven Enterprises, 14 stores; Val Vista Tire & Auto, 13 stores; and Leeds West Group, 12 locations.
Car-X Tire — Brex Inc. and Gorrepati Enterprises Inc., 18 and 28 locations, respectively.
Midas — Max Auto, 113 stores; and Leeds West Groups, 85 stores.
Point S — Nelson Tire/Gill's Point S, 15 locations; and Pneus Ratte, 11 locations.
RNR — Rental Concepts L.L.C., 21 locations; SPF Mgt. Co. L.L.C./RNR Tire Express, 15 locations; RIMS USA L.L.C., 16 locations; and Gulf Coast L&P, 12 locations.
In addition, MFA Oil — Big O Tire's primary franchisee in Missouri — operates nine Jiffy Lube stores in addition to its 19 Big O stores in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.