The new 25,000-square-foot full-service commercial centre is set to go up on Fort William Road at the corner of Burbidge Street, Fountain Tire manager Darcy Hunter says.
Construction will begin as soon as plans are approved by the city.Fountain Tire
, with over 140 stores from Thunder Bay westward, is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year.To mark the occasion the company is building the commercial centre which will incorporate the services of its two current Thunder Bay locations - a tire store on Bay Street and a tire retread station on Gore Street - and expand to offer mechanical and alignment services for passenger vehicles and light- and heavy-duty trucks.The new facility will also have an on-site warehouse, Hunter
adds.Presently staff are forced to make several trips each day to a separate warehousing spot.Hunter, who came to Thunder Bay last year specifically to plan and oversee the project, says staff and customers alike are excited for the project to begin.
Even contractors are eager for construction to start."I already have a list of contractors who are willing to jump right in on the contract," he
says."I've had at least eight people submit applications to do the work."Fountain Tire
recently purchased a two-hectare lot from Auto Auctions
, a used car dealership, for the commercial centre.The property is already zoned heavy industrial, but Hunter
says there are still a few details that need to be worked out with the city, such as landscaping."The city says it wants to help get things going quickly," he
says."If I'm in by the fall I'll be pretty happy."Construction, he
says, will likely take six months or less, and aside from the jobs the construction phase will create, the company plans to hire another seven people to staff the bigger facility."We'll more or less double the number of employees we had in February of (2000)," he
says."There are 13 people working at the two locations right now."Hunter
is confident Fountain Tire will see a jump in business once the new store opens.The current Bay Street store is difficult for transport trucks to access, and therefore trucking companies are forced to take their business elsewhere, he
adds."I don't blame those people who go somewhere else" because we're not easily accessible, he
says."Certainly, from my point of view, I would be frustrated too."We're trying to do a commercial business out of a retail location.We've actually had to fix tires on the street.We've had to call the police and have them block off traffic so we could fix tires."Fountain Tire
also has four mobile units that do work off site for customers who are unable to bring their equipment or vehicles to the store.The new commercial centre, however, will be easily accessible and it will have 11 drive-through bays that can accommodate an entire transport truck, including the trailer, Hunter
says.That feature was particularly appealing to businesses that were consulted when the building was being designed.Hunter
says nearly 40 per cent of Fountain Tire's
business comes from the forestry and mining sectors, but notes the company "handles everything from wheel barrels to forklifts.