BIRMINGHAM – The Alabama Retail Association, in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business, today recognized outstanding Alabama retailers representing 13 retail businesses with operations in 48 Alabama cities and 12 other states as Retailers of the Year. The 13 winning Retailers of the Year came from a pool of almost 70 nominees. The presentations were made at the Vestavia Country Club in Birmingham during the 2014 Retail Day Luncheon. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley presented the keynote address and signed a statewide proclamation declaring Sept. 23 as Alabama Retail Day. This marked the 15th presentation of the Retailer of the Year Awards since 1999.
Ricky Brooks, chief executive officer of Birmingham-based Express Oil Change and Tire Engineers, one of the largest independent providers of total car care solutions in the United States, earned the Bronze Alabama Retailer of the Year Award in the Annual Sales More Than $20 Million category. Express Oil Change and Tire Engineers has 216 stores spanning 13 states. In addition to its corporate headquarters in Birmingham, it has 100 stores in 45 Alabama cities, said Josh Henderson, senior vice president of marketing for Express Oil, who nominated Brooks for the award. The Retailer of the Year recognized Express Oil for its “tremendous sales growth and expansion in 2013 and 2014.”
In February of last year, 35-year-old Express Oil Change bought Tire Engineers, a chain of seven tire and full service mechanical stores that had been serving the Birmingham market for more than 65 years. The strategic acquisition has resulted in aggressive cobranding of the corporate Express Oil Change locations to further position the company as a full-service auto repair and tire sales operation. Stores converting to Express Oil Change and Tire Engineers also have been getting a complete facelift.
In 2013, the chain opened nine new stores across its footprint and plans to open stores at that pace for the foreseeable future. Its stores consistently average 30 percent to 35 percent greater car count than the industry.
The company employs full-time, career-oriented employees and rewards them with career paths, health and retirement benefits, training and compensation linked to their production. The average tenure of its operational leadership is more than 20 years. To build its pipeline of store talent, Express Oil Change and Tire Engineers engages with local technical schools and community colleges. It also has partnered with Samford University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham for career fairs, student projects and other opportunities.
The company has an internal data management and reporting system that delivers real-time feedback and management of store key performance indicators. Every store employee is graded weekly on benchmarks that are weighted against key measurements, including number of vehicles served, speed of service and customer satisfaction. An employee’s grade determines their eligibility for incremental incentive earnings.
Express Oil Change and Tire Engineers is also about giving back. Its stores give away hundreds of free oil changes annually to raise money in silent auctions and raffles for charities in the communities they serve. This past Mother’s Day, in the Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery, Auburn and Tuscaloosa markets, the stores partnered with Church of the Highlands to give out nearly 1,000 oil changes to single mothers, widows and spouses of deployed soldiers. Its flagship community event is fundraising for Children’s Hospital of Alabama. Every April, Express Oil Change and Tire Engineers donates $1 per car serviced to the art therapy department of the oncology unit at Children’s Hospital. Over the past seven years, it has donated nearly $300,000 to fund this valuable art therapy for children and their families going through this traumatic medical event.
Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown said, “Ricky Brooks is a retailer of the year EVERY year to his customers, employees and any community where there is an Express Oil Change and Tire Engineers.”
Media Contact: Josh Henderson, Express Oil Change & Tire Engineers | 205.945.1771
Media Contact: Nancy King Dennis | 334.551.0643 (d) | 800.239.5423