LOGAN, Utah — Larry C. Nicholls Sr., a tire industry pioneer of over six decades and a founding partner of American Car Care Centers (ACCC), died Sept. 26 at age 78.
Nicholls' tire industry career started in 1962 with U.S. Rubber Co. (Uniroyal) in the firm's retail store division. He climbed the ranks at Uniroyal, eventually overseeing 500 retail stores, before striking out his own in 1976, starting with his first Discount Tire & Automotive store in Logan.
He followed that a year later with the opening of Plains Tire Co. in Wyoming and grew those retail businesses to 14 stores throughout the two states with a focus on "exceptional service and value" to customers.
At about the same time he founded Wholesale Tire Distributors, a wholesale distribution business serving dealers throughout the intermountain West — Idaho, Utah and Wyoming and parts of Nevada and Colorado.
In the late 1980s he executed a pair of developments that had lasting impact on the industry.
First he developed Tire Link, a system that allowed wholesale customers to purchase tires online from their own retail location, and then in 1989 he teamed up with Merchants Tire & Auto and Strauss Frank Co. to form American Car Care Centers (ACCC), a buying/marketing cooperative designed to help smaller independent dealers compete with major retailers while maintaining their autonomy.
Nicholls served as the ACCC's first chairperson, leveraging his wisdom and vision to help establish and grow that business concept, his family said. ACCC dissolved in 2014, citing changing market dynamics and growth of the individual member companies.