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Former Tirecraft Owners Back in the Tire Business

(Edmonton Journal) David and John Cosco are back in the tire business, resurrecting dozens of Tirecraft stores across Western Canada under a new Integra brand.

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The Edmonton brothers, who sold Tirecraft three years ago to a group that ran it into bankruptcy this spring, bought six company-owned stores and have signed up 40 owner-operated associate outlets, David Cosco said Aug. 28.

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They expect to have 50 to 60 stores on board within two weeks, he said.

New Integra Tire and Auto Centre signs are being installed, and some dealers are already answering the phone as Integra, he added.

"The last three years have been very difficult for the dealers, and they are looking for some stability," Cosco said.

"We’ve been in the business since 1978 and we have a good track record. The tremendous support we have been getting from the dealers is very heartwarming."

They were unsuccessful in bidding for the Tirecraft name, which was bought by a partnership of Kirk’s Tire and Trail Tire.

If they had got the name, they would have tried to get all 160 associates on board, including those in Eastern Canada, Cosco said.

"With a new name and a small management team, we just couldn’t do it."

Cosco was surprised the 45 company-owned stores were not sold as a single block, which would have been better for the employees.

Edmonton-based Fountain Tire also acquired six stores.

The Coscos are the major shareholders in the new Edmonton company, and have brought back some of their old management team, including Darrell Sept as CEO.

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The ownership, not the 800 employees, was to blame for the company’s failure, Cosco said. "I knew decisions were being made that I disagreed with, but I never thought they would go under."

Emotions played a part in his decision to get back into the business. Many people lost money in the bankruptcy, including the Coscos, but it was the employees who really suffered, he said.

They worked so hard yet did not get vacation pay when they were laid off, and some did not get the bonuses they were entitled to, he added.

"But there are no messiahs here. We’re business people and it’s a good industry."

The new Integra name was carefully chosen to represent the honesty and integrity they brought to the business for 20 years, Cosco said.

The tire suppliers, which cut off deliveries to the former owners, have been overwhelmingly supportive of the new company, he said.

Tirecraft was one of North America’s largest tire retailers when it was bought in 2005 by a group that included two pairs of Edmonton brothers, George and Ernie Votis and Martin and Roger Gouin.

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It got into trouble through a combination of slumping sales and poorly timed expansion, according to court documents. (Tire Review/Akron)

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