“We are excited to acquire such a high quality operator like Plaza,” Rob Stravitz, Sun Auto’s chief marketing officer, told Tire Business.
“We believe they give us another system with strong operational and customer service oriented culture and processes that will help make the rest of our system better.”
As part of the deal, Plaza Tire owners Mark and Scott Rhodes have “invested substantially” in Sun and, along with Mark Rhodes’ eldest son Sam, “will continue to be active in the day-to-day operations of Plaza Tire Service,” Sun Tire said, and will continue to work in their respective roles.
Mr. Stravitz said the brothers “will play significant day-to-day roles in Sun Auto and Plaza specifically going forward. Their decision to invest and stay engaged in the business reflects their love of the business and their belief that prospects for Sun Auto are bright.”
Mark Rhodes, also Plaza Tire President, said the dealership didn’t actively pursue a buyer.
“But when Sun Auto reached out and we saw their plans, the way they do business, the other acquisitions they made, it became clear that this could be a good option for us,” Mark Rhodes said. “We’re excited to get started on this next chapter in the history of Plaza Tire Service.”
Plaza Tire was founded in 1963 as a car wash by Vernon Rhodes, Mark and Scott Rhodes’ father. At 70 stores, Plaza Tire was ranked as the 18th largest independent retail dealership in the U.S. this year, according to Tire Business research.
Tony Puckett, chief executive officer of Sun Auto Tire, welcomed the Rhodes family, “as they bring their best-in-class customer service experience into the Sun Auto Tire & Service family.”
“Plaza Tire Service has developed an exceptional reputation throughout their markets,” Mr. Puckett said. “This highly strategic acquisition positions our company to further strengthen the overall store portfolio and will enable us to accelerate geographic growth throughout the midwestern region of the U.S.”
Plaza Tire opened three stores in Arkansas this year — in Bentonville, Jonesboro and Siloam Springs — and had disclosed plans to open a fourth before year-end. The most recent is in Jonesboro, its second in that city and eighth in Arkansas.
Scott Rhodes, vice president of Plaza Tire Service, said his family has been “growing this company and building on our father’s legacy for years. Our agreement with Sun Auto lets us continue to grow the Plaza Tire Service brand. From the perspective of our employees and customers, it’s business as usual.”
This marks Sun Auto’s ninth acquisition this year, totaling 116 locations.
Prior to this Sun Auto acquired El Paso, Texas-based Martin Tire Co., a tire and wheel distributor with eight stores in Texas and New Mexico in early November.
Earlier this year, Sun Auto also acquired 16 stores in the Pacific Northwest via three dealers — Greg’s Japanese Auto and Jeff’s Auto Repair in the Seattle market and Gaynors Automotive in Vancouver, Wash. — and purchased Hogan & Sons Tire & Auto Service in northern Virginia.
These most recent acquisitions were carried out after Sun Auto founders Greenbriar Equity Group Inc. sold majority ownership of the automotive aftermarket retail business to Leonard Green & Partners, a Los Angeles-based private equity group.
Mr. Stravitz said the Plaza Tire acquisition helps to support future growth for Sun Auto.
“Beside bringing strong operations and service culture into our system,” he said, “(the acquisition) also increases our ability to create critical mass with suppliers, gives us capabilities in distribution we don’t have today, and brings more talent into the organization to support future growth.”