Les Schwab Tire Centers considering $3 billion sale
Les Schwab Tire Centers said Monday, Dec. 23, it was considering selling the Central Oregon company.
Chief Executive Officer Jack Cuniff said the company's board and shareholders, who are all relatives of founder Les Schwab, decided to seek new ownership. "This company is strong," Cuniff said in a company statement. "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."
Schwab family shareholders said in a joint statement the company was considering the age of its board as it acted.
"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," according to the shareholder statement. "We believe a new owner — one with deep experience and resources — will carry forward the Les Schwab vision far into the future."
Shareholders said they were "excited to see what the future will bring."
"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," according to the shareholder statement.
The company has hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to represent Les Schwab in the sales process, which is expected to take several months.
Bloomberg reported Tuesday morning, Dec. 24, that the company is working with an adviser to weigh alternatives such as divesting its real estate portfolio, which is worth at least $2 billion. The company has $1.8 billion in annual revenue and more than 450 locations in 10 states.
Central Oregon businessman Les Schwab founded the tire company in 1952 in Prineville. It is headquartered in Bend. Schwab died in 2007.
Les Schwab Tire Centers are known for their enthusiastic customer service, where staff rush to greet each vehicle, and for closing on Sundays for religious reasons. The company has more than 7,000 employees in 490 locations across Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming
In another email sent out Tuesday after department meetings had been held, Cuniff said the timing of the announcement was unexpected, but offered a positive message going forward.
"While we don't know exactly what the future holds, we do know this company is strong because of its people, its programs …" he said.
Sale of the company was not something that Schwab envisioned happening. In the 2008 tribute video, several clips showed the company founder talking about his desire to "see the company go on for several more generations."
"Our company is not for sale," he said in one of the clips. "It is going to be here for several generations after I am gone."
Joseph Gallivan is a Business Tribune reporter. Jason Chaney of the Central Oregonian and Oregon Public Broadcasting contributed to this news story.
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