From Tire Review
While it wasn’t the first of its kind, it was certainly the biggest and broadest. Now, it is no more.
Effective Jan. 31, 2014, American Car Care Centers Inc. will officially cease operations, the marketing group announced this morning. ACCC’s board of directors took the final decision in November, and ACCC member distributors began informing their employees as of Nov. 29.
The shutdown includes ACCC’s Eco Express Tire Centers program.
According to President and CEO Len Lewin, the wind-down decision actually came last May when the company held a meeting of all member distributors in Detroit to discuss the group’s future. “We came to the conclusion that certainly some members had been highly successful and needed more room to continue growth, more than what we could provide.
“As you might imagine, the decision was not an easy one, but after evaluating every alternative, we collectively came to the conclusion that it is the right long-term decision for all involved,” he said.
Lewin, who has been president and/or CEO of ACCC since 1994, informed the board earlier this year that he planned to retire in “12 to 18 months,” but the two events had nothing to do with each other.
Member distributors, he noted, will be released from the program as of Jan. 31, 2014, the same day papers will be filed to officially dissolve the corporate body of ACCC.
The 1,150 dealers involved in the program will be released as of Jan. 6, 2014, he said. Those dealers using the ACCC national warranty and credit card programs will be contacted directly by their program distributors and Automotive Business Solutions and GE Capital with information on how they can continue on those programs.
At its start in 1989, ACCC was one part private brander, one part buying group, one part marketing group and one part supplier. The idea was to help smaller dealers be more competitive against mass merchants, discounters, tire company outlets, price clubs and mega-dealers – without losing control of their businesses or independence. And that last point proved to be ACCC’s key to success.
That first year, ACCC had just four distributor members – including then-heavyweights Merchants in Virginia and Strauss & Frank in Texas – with a total of 74 dealers. By the close of 1992, it had grown to 569 dealer locations and 14 member distributors.
Those distributors took the existing regional dealer marketing group concept to another level. Instead of a single wholesaler running its own regional buying group/marketing group program, ACCC brought multiple independent distributors together to create a national program that at its peak had 19 member distributors and some 1,200 retail locations under one banner.
In 1993, ACCC signed its first supply agreement with Michelin North America (ACCC added Continental and General tires in the 1990s) and held its first national promotion three years later. Once produced by Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., ACCC flagship American Radial private brand was discontinued in mid-2011 after ACCC could not secure production.
Over the years, consolidations and shifts changed the names on ACCC’s member distributor roster. Merchants and Strauss & Frank were bought up, as were one-time partners Target Tire, Tire Wholesalers and Am-Pac Tire Distributors (which were taken by American Tire Distributors), and Englewood Tire and Summit Tire (both bought by Terry’s Tire Town).
Besides ATD and Terry’s Tire Town, other current member distributors include US AutoForce in Wisconsin, Tire Discounters and K&M Tire in Ohio, South Dade Automotive in Florida, Lisac’s Tire in Montana, Jack Williams Tire in Pennsylvania and Dunn Tire in New York.
“ACCC has consisted of some of the finest distributors and retailers in the industry, and this change will not impact their ability to service their customers or impede their progress in any significant way,” said Lewin. “They are all seasoned organizations with experience and knowledgeable people. It is now for them to begin the next chapter.”