The Press Newspaper
Tireman Auto Service Centers will be following the lead of its former owner, The Andersons, Inc., by leaving its Woodville Mall location by next year, The Press has learned.
According to Randy Jones, president and CEO of Tireman, the Toledo-based company decided that the deteriorating conditions of the mall coupled with the crumbling condition of the parking lot no longer fit in with the company’s image.
“We feel the condition of the mall and the surrounding property is something we do not have control over and it does not present an image that is consistent with our brand,” Jones said. “We have always enjoyed a good customer base and our business has been good there. If the mall was in good condition and the lot was presentable, we would stay.”
The Andersons, which sold Tireman in 2000 to its former joint venture partner, privately owned World Tire Corporation, and Jones, announced it would close its Northwood location by the end of February, 2013.
Dan Anderson, president of The Andersons Retail Group, told The Press that poor economic conditions coupled with the deteriorating condition of the mall and a lack of demographic density, made the Northwood location not as viable as it once was.
Store manager Tom Keller will oversee the store’s liquidation process, Anderson said. The positions for the 29 full-time and 92 part-time employees will be phased out during the closure proceedings. Employees will have the opportunity to apply for positions elsewhere within the company. Separation pay and outplacement services also are being provided to all employees to assist in their career transition.
Anderson added the company had looked at other options on the east side of the river, but could not find a location that was a right fit for the right price.
“We have had many discussions over many years trying to find alternatives. Trust me, if we had a better option, we would have exercised it a while ago,” Anderson told The Press.
The Andersons had been renting its building from Mehran Kohensieh, LLC, of Little Neck, New York, who purchased the mall in November, 2009.
Last December, the Woodville Mall was shuttered after officials from the Wood County Health Department, Wood County and the City of Northwood toured the structure. What they found was a leaking and collapsing roof and ceiling, mold, wet carpeting, no heat and an inoperable fire suppression system.
Since then, the mall has sat empty and boarded up. Small business owners in the mall were forced to close their shops just before the Christmas shopping season.
Tireman has been at the Williston Road location for 25 years, Jones said adding they too have been renting their building. The business has enjoyed a loyal customer base from Oregon and Northwood as well as from Genoa, Millbury and the surrounding communities, he said.
“We will be staying on the east side of the river,” Jones said. “I cannot comment right now where we will be. We are looking at two properties on that side of town. We will have the location by the end of the year.”
Jones said Tireman will be building a brand new building and, depending on the weather, will be opening the new facility in mid 2013. Tireman currently has 17 locations in Ohio and southern Michigan. The Northwood location has 16 employees, 80 percent of them full-time, Jones said.
“We are actually going to construct a new building,” Jones said. “We hope to have no interruption in our business and we will keep our employee team together. We have had a good 25 years with a good customer base and we plan to continue that. We are committed to the east side of the river and we have no problem putting a stake in the ground. We are in it for the long haul.”
Northwood City Administrator Bob Anderson, said he had heard a rumor that Tireman would be building on Navarre Avenue, in Oregon.
“My understanding is they are building in Oregon,” Anderson said. “They will have a lot more competition and overhead where they are moving.”
The city has had a very rough fall in terms of economics. In what seems like a mass exodus in the past month, Northwood learned it would lose 185 production jobs at Hostess Brands, Inc., which represents a $125,000 loss in yearly income and other tax revenue. The city will lose another $43,000 annually once The Andersons closes.
Three weeks ago, Rite Aid closed its store at Great Eastern, which represents another $8,000 loss. The closing and moving of Tireman will add another $8,000 loss in annual revenue, Anderson said.
The city drew some comfort after recently learning that Banner Mattress and Furniture, formerly located on Navarre Avenue in Oregon, will be moving into the former JoAnne Fabrics building at Great Eastern in the coming months.
“A few years ago, Oregon had issues trying to bring businesses onto Navarre Avenue,” Anderson said. “We are hoping this is a cyclical situation right now. We do offer some help for businesses moving here, but we do not have a full-time economic development director because we are a small city and cannot afford it.”
Northwood Law Director Brian Ballenger is looking for a legal course of action in order to deal with the mall, Anderson added.
“We are trying to get the mall owner into court for a legal remedy to the situation because it is a public nuisance and public health liability,” Anderson said.
Oregon Mayor Mike Seferian would not deny or confirm that Tireman has found a site in Oregon.
“I hope the rumors are true, that they are planning on coming to Oregon,” Seferian said. “If that is the case, I will do anything in my power to make sure that happens.”
Seferian confirmed he has spoken with Jones on several occasions.
“I told him if there was something they needed with the permit and building process, that we would do what we could to facilitate that,” Seferian said. “We will help with anything they need if they choose an Oregon location.”
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