GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. — If there is an adjective to describe the automotive repair management ownership platform known as Leeds West Groups (LWG), it might be "unique."
Or perhaps distinctive. Maybe atypical. Definitely different.
Take the speed at which the company has grown. Since it was founded as Leeds West Inc. in 2009 by CEO Judd Shader — then an undergraduate at the University of Colorado in Boulder — LWG has expanded from two Midas International locations in Colorado to 106 locations under three franchise brands in 18 states today.
As one of the fast-growing ownership groups in the industry, it ranks among the top 15 dealerships in North America, according to Tire Business calculations, with $100 million in sales in 2018.
- This article appears in the Sept. 28 print edition of Tire Business.
Then, there's this: Greenwood Village-based LWG, unlike few others in the tire space, operates under three distinct auto repair franchise brands: Midas (80 locations), Big O Tires (26) — both TBC Corp. franchise brands — and SpeeDee Oil Change & Auto Service (6).
The group calls itself the only "family office backed" franchise group in the U.S. — Mr. Shader originally got backing from family members — and today it remains extremely "well capitalized," according to Mr. Shader.
"There's very little cash restraints upon any deal we can do," Mr. Shader told Tire Business. That allows the company to purchase the real estate that its businesses occupy, whenever feasible, another unusual twist to the business.
But perhaps the most distinctive part of LWG's makeup is its corporate infrastructure.
The LWG leadership team includes:
- Chief Financial Officer Peter Derschang, with more than three decades of financial management experience, including a tenure at Brakes Plus Corp.;
- Chief Operating Officer Derek Wessels, who spent a dozen years at Bridgestone Americas, where he served in various senior management positions with Firestone Complete Auto Care; and
- Auto Systems Expert Division COO Alan Mahrt, who has more than 30 years of automotive retail business management experience as a Midas franchisee.
In addition, Joshua Weinreich, a career finance executive who was global head of hedge funds for Deutsche Bank and is a board member of E*Trade Financial, among others, chairs the six-member board of directors. That group also includes Markus Hockenson, with 25 years of leadership experience, including four-plus years as senior vice president, retail, with TBC Corp.; and David H. B. Smith Jr., formerly associate director with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and current board member of Northern Trust Bank.
"We're 100% top heavy," Mr. Shader said. "We're built for growth. We are lucky to be able to invest heavy for what we want to become in the future, not what we are today.
"A lot of companies, especially companies that have other models, every dollar they spend is worth $15 to them in the exit. That is the opposite of our strategy. We over-invest today to continue to build what want to build from a long-term, foundational standpoint."