The nation’s highest-ranked, most customer-focused tire retailer – Les Schwab Tire Centers – announced its intention to sell the company to position it for additional growth and success, Les Schwab CEO Jack Cuniff announced.
The private company’s board of directors and its shareholders, who are all relatives of founder Les Schwab, decided to seek new ownership for the company. They made the decision from a position of strength and based on the realities of being a family-owned business with five generations of family members.
“This company is strong,” Cuniff said. “We believe this is the best way to honor Les’ vision for the company and stores and support growth and innovation. Our owners are responsible stewards, and this decision was made after much consideration. It was not made lightly.”
The Schwab family shareholders said in a joint statement:
“Given the complexities of a fifth-generation family business, and managing a company of our size, we are at an important point in the life of Les Schwab Tire Centers. As our family grows and ages, it is increasingly critical to us that ownership remain committed and aligned behind our Grandfather’s vision.
“After careful review and a lot of consideration, we concluded a new ownership group will help ensure future opportunity for our wonderful employees and secure continued success for the company as it grows. We believe a new owner – one with deep experience and resources – will carry forward the Les Schwab vision far into the future.
“Our incredible Tire Centers, and the company and communities we have built together, make us proud. As hard as it is to make the decision to sell this company, we are confident it will offer tremendous opportunity to build on all we have accomplished together for our customers, communities and our employees. We are excited to see what the future will bring.”
Known for its great value and high-quality products, innovative business practices and outstanding customer service, Les Schwab is a strong brand with deep local ties in the communities it serves. The company has a track record of living the ideals embraced by its founder, who started the company in 1952. Its stores are fixtures in hundreds of communities in 10 states across the West, where they sponsor youth activities and other local events.
The company has hired Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. to represent Les Schwab in the sales process, which is expected to take several months.
According to a report in Bloomberg, the independent retailer is “exploring options including an outright sale." The Bloomberg report said the sale could generate at least $3 billion.
The company operators have issued a statement about the sale on the Les Schwab website that reads in part:
"Nearly 70 years after Les Schwab founded our Company, its Board and Shareholders are seeking new ownership for the nation’s highest-ranked, most customer-focused tire retailer.
'"Our incredible Tire Centers, and the company and communities we have built together, make us proud,” Les’ family said in a statement. '“As hard as it is to make the decision to sell this company, we are confident it will offer tremendous opportunity to build on all we have accomplished together for our customers, communities and our employees. We are excited to see what the future will bring.”'
The website includes background of the roots of the company.
"Born in 1917 in Bend, Oregon, Les Schwab came from humble beginnings. He was a self-made man, and believed in old-fashioned hard work. Les built his business from one store to hundreds of locations across the western states, making Les Schwab one of the largest independent tire businesses in the United States.
He didn’t do it alone. Les valued partnership — he was married for over 70 years after all — and provided his employees training and opportunities to grow and succeed, both financially and personally. Les believed in treating customers like family.
Although Les passed away in 2007, his vision remains at the core of the company’s culture: give people more for their money … reward employees for their expertise and hard work … earn people’s trust and everyone benefits. Today, the 7,000+ employees of Les Schwab Tire Centers are proud to carry on this legacy."
Les Schwab Tire Centers Background Information
Les Schwab Tire Centers (www.lesschwab.com), headquartered in Bend, Oregon is one of the leading independent tire dealers in the United States. The company has over 7,000 employees in over 490 locations throughout Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming.
Les Schwab founded the company bearing his name in 1952 and quickly established a reputation for outstanding customer service. The first Les Schwab stores were opened in small towns and rural communities with one guiding principle – provide your neighbors with outstanding customer service and high-quality products. This single-minded focus on servicing customers continues today. “Pride in Performance,” a slogan coined by the founder explains each employee’s commitment to providing the best tire value and always delivering world-class customer service.
Les Schwab is recognized for several innovative business practices. It pioneered the concept of offering a supermarket selection of tires in its showrooms – allowing customers the opportunity to inspect and select the exact tires they want. For over 50 years, the company has stood behind its products and services by providing customers with written warranties on tires, brakes and other products.
Other innovations include industry leading employee recruitment and retention programs. Les Schwab believes world-class customer service starts with employees who are powerfully motivated to serve. The company incentivizes employees who put the customer first with opportunities to advance within the organization and provides online and hands-on training to help them hone their skills. Through its long-standing policy to promote from within, every hourly employee has the opportunity to be promoted to store management.
Les Schwab’s employee rewards program exceeds any other in the retail tire industry. The company established its first profit share program in 1954, and today shares approximately half of its profits with employees through generous health benefits, bonuses and retirement programs. The company also offers paid holiday and vacation, disability coverage and life insurance programs.
At Les Schwab, the commitment to service is threefold – service to customers, to employees and to communities. The company is recognized for its volunteer efforts, sponsorships, local environmental and business practices. It has received several awards including: a Milestone award from the Oregon Sustainability Board, Oregon Economic and Community Development Department honors, an Environmental Excellence award from the Association of Washington Business, an Integrity Counts award from the Northern Idaho Better Business Bureau, and The Oregonian Top Workplace recognition every year from 2012-2018.
The company continues to actively focus on growth and expansion, as well as delivering the best selection, quality and service that customers have come to expect. Recently appointed CEO Jack Cuniff, an 11-year veteran of Les Schwab, says that during this growth the company remains committed to its founding principles: to deliver a legendary level of customer service, while leading in a rapidly changing retail environment.