PORTLAND, Ore. — While it seems a little peculiar to grow your business footprint by acquiring another business located nearly 3,000 miles away — in the middle of a global pandemic — it makes perfect sense to Eric Gill.
When the opportunity for expansion initially presented itself — pre-pandemic, by the way — and it became clear this was the fit he was looking for, Mr. Gill made the leap.
Mr. Gill, president, owner and CEO of Gills Point S Tire & Automotive Service, has acquired 10 Vianor-branded retail stores in New England from Finnish tire maker Nokian Tyres P.L.C.
Suddenly, Mr. Gill's West Coast-based, family-owned dealership, with 17 stores, has grown nearly 60%, with a presence on each coast.
"I guess ... I'll start enjoying United Airlines or whatever airlines is best to go east to west," Mr. Gill told Tire Business. "I say that I've got a five-hour quarantined work environment on a plane every so often. Once I hit the ground, it's like my own stores (in Oregon)."
Terms of the deal, which closed Aug. 31, were not disclosed.
Mr. Gill said his West Coast stores cover a 500-sq.-mile footprint and his New England stores service a 350-sq.-mile geography.
"So it's kind of the same other than, from a CEO/president/owner standpoint, I've got to get on a plane to touch and feel the source every so often," he said.
"I knew I had to go outside Oregon to continue to grow at the pace we wanted to grow," Mr. Gill said. "Sometimes opportunity is knocking on the back door, not the front door."
Equally as important, the acquisition pushes the reach of Point S Automotive Tire & Service USA to four new states (New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York and Vermont) in the Northeast. The marketing cooperative now boasts 240 locations, owned by 160 dealers, in 28 states.
"We ... believe under Eric's leadership, the stores will be a great steward for our brand," Nokian Director of Marketing Hans Dyhrman said.
The new Gills Point S dealerships are located in North Adams, Mass.; Concord and West Lebanon, N.H.; Malone, N.Y.; and Derby, Montpelier, Morrisville, St. Johnsbury, Springfield and Williston, Vt.
"I don't think (entering) the Northeast ever really entered my mindset until this opportunity came up, and we starting playing the can-we-make-this-work analysis," Point S CEO Walter Lybeck said. "It all came together really well. It's just a great way for us to move into a market that would have been 20 years in the making if we had to do that on our own."