From Fast Food to Fast Lube
The duo opened their first Express Oil Change store in April 1988, and business continued booming, much to the surprise of Brooks and Watson. “They were more successful than we anticipated. My partner who had been involved with me at the time was working at an insurance agency, left an 11-year career. We started developing Express Oil Change franchises,” Brooks said. In 1995, Brooks and Watson had successfully built 11 more locations, giving them 14 stores at that time. “That was 14 of the 48 stores in the chain. The founder had 11, and seven other franchise groups had the other 23. We bought the founder out in March 1996 and immediately owned 25 of the 48 Express Oil Change stores,” Brooks said.
Since then, Brooks has helped develop an additional 150 units. Today, there are 88 corporate stores and 111 franchise units in operation, and there seems to be even more exciting changes on the horizon for Brooks and his Express Oil empire. “Earlier this year, we acquired a chain of tire dealers called Tire Engineers, which has seven stores,” Brooks said. “They’ve been in business more than 60 years and are a high-quality business with a great reputation. The culture of Tire Engineers and their values are completely aligned with the Express Oil core values and company culture.”
The Tire Engineers acquisition will enable Express Oil Change and Service Center to develop a high-quality tire dealership and provide added value for their customer base, while continuing to offer a fast oil change and complete mechanical services. “Express Oil Change has always been unique to the industry,” Brooks said. “We have always had dedicated oil change bays with a pit or basement under them, and we have always had dedicated service bays with lifts and diagnostic equipment to provide high-quality maintenance and repair on a mechanical basis. It’s what we call convenient automotive mechanical work. We do brakes, air conditioners, shocks and struts. The Tire Engineer acquisition will enable us to add a third leg and accomplish what no one in the industry has been able to do. We will be providing the true one-stop shop.”
The acquisition of Tire Engineers has also set in motion the co-branding of a number of existing stores, along with plans for an Express Oil Change and Tire Engineers supercenter, which will include new waiting rooms and service writing facilities, along with new service bays and on-site tire storage. “We will be able to provide customers with not only a 10-minute oil change and mechanical service, but also same-day tire sales and service under one roof,” Brooks said. “I think that adding co-branding opportunities and developing in the tire industry will enable us to be an even more valuable service provider for our customers.” It’s a partnership that is already producing measurable results. “We’ve always sold a few tires on a convenience basis, but our customers are responding very well to the co-branding between Express Oil Change and Service Center and Tire Engineers. We are having excellent results so far,” Brooks said. “Our customers are voting with their hard-earned dollars and are rewarding us by doing business with us.”