Meet the Michael Jordan of the Tire Industry (Podcast) - Tire Review Magazine

Meet the Michael Jordan of the Tire Industry (Podcast)

In this episode of Johnny g & Friends, presented by Firestone, get to know the “Michael Jordan of the Tire Industry.” No, he’s not 6-foot-6 with six playoff rings, but he is the largest car dealer in the state of Florida. That man is Larry Morgan, chairman of Morgan Family Ventures, a high-growth group of companies spanning multiple industries. Why is he the “Michael Jordan of the Tire Industry?” Well, because he’s the GOAT – one of the greatest tire dealers of all time, according to his friend, Johnny g (aka John Gamauf). But, let’s let his record speak for itself.

Larry got his start as store manager at Firestone after being a part of the company’s elite management training class of 1965. Years later, he would invest “every single dime” he had to purchase 30 locations of Don Olson Tire, with the help of Firestone Tire. In less than 10 years, he’d grow it to 600 locations of Tires Plus across the country.

Since then, he’s gotten out of the tire business and now owns 47 car dealerships as part of Morgan Auto Group, in addition to a construction management company, a real estate holding agency and others. Along the way, he’s molded himself into a philanthropist that gives back in the Tampa Bay community.

When Johnny g met Larry, he was on the path to becoming a business mogul as the CEO of Merchant’s Tire. Since then, the two have been through the ups and downs of the industry—and life—together.

In this episode of Johnny g & Friends, presented by Firestone, hear how Larry grew Tires Plus to a 630-location tire dealership, the challenges along the way, and like MJ, how he switched careers to become the largest car dealer in the Sunshine State. You’ll also hear about:

  • Larry’s start in the industry and the story of his first tire sale, which totaled $20 [1:00]
  • Larry’s time as CEO at Merchant’s Tire, which he grew to more than 100 locations [4:09]
  • How Larry set out on his own and “put every single dime” on the line to acquire Don Olson Tire, which he expanded to 600+ locations of Tires Plus across the country [5:13]
  • What Larry believes was the key factor in the success of Tires Plus and how he became known as “Recall Larry” among his team as they navigated the Ford-Firestone recall [7:42]
  • Why Larry sold Tires Plus stores to Bridgestone-Firestone [10:47]
  • How Larry entered the new car dealer market and the similarities and differences between owning tire stores and auto centers [12:29]
  • The success of Morgan Auto Group, which is on track to generate $4.5 billion this year, and what Larry enjoys most about his role as the group’s chairman [14:22]
  • Larry’s memories with Johnny g, including the time they both spent with Walter Payton, considered one of the greatest American football players in history [16:25]
  • Johnny g’s cancer scare at the age of 36 and how Larry dropped everything to be there for his friend [20:35]
  • Achieving work-life balance and how Larry and Johnny g handled their friendship while maintaining their competitive edge in their respective positions [22:23]

Look for more episodes of Johnny g & Friends the first Tuesday of every month here.

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