1-800-Radiator & A/C
1-800-Radiator & A/C was founded in 1982 (then called Radiator Express Warehouse) to take advantage of the growing trend in the automotive aftermarket of radiator replacement versus repair. The initial warehouse in Union City, California, was one of the first outlets in the country dedicated to the wholesale distribution of new aftermarket radiators. We opened a second warehouse, in Sacramento, in 1989.
Throughout the 1990s the principal strategy for growth by 1-800-Radiator & A/C involved geographic expansion to provide same-day or next-day delivery to customers across the United States. Outlets were opened in Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Atlanta, Dallas, and Kansas City. At the same time, sophisticated marketing programs were established, and the telephone number 1-800-Radiator and the URL www.radiator.com were acquired. By 1996 the 1-800-Radiator brand was well known.
The customer database had grown to include information on more than 200,000 repair and body shops, and the direct-marketing effort included approximately 500,000 mailings per year. By 1998 there were over 15 locations. Over the next five years, a number of initiatives were launched to further establish itself as a leader in aftermarket radiator distribution, including the acquisitions of distributors in North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Oklahoma, Las Vegas, Texas, and Southern California. During this period the Company also established an Internet sales department, acquiring more than 1,000 URLs related to the radiator and general automotive parts aftermarket. Total system-wide sales grew by an annual growth rate of roughly 22 percent over the five-year period (1998-2003).
To better align strategy with core competencies and the markets, an improvement to the business strategy was initiated in 2005. This new focus involved the opening of new franchises throughout the United States and the sale of existing, company-owned locations to franchise Owners. Regional competitors also joined the network as 1-800-Radiator & A/C franchisees.
As the sale of franchises accelerated in 2006 and 2007, the bulk of system-wide sales shifted from company-owned warehouses to franchise operations. From 2006 through 2009 capital was raised to finance 13 acquisitions on behalf of franchisees, totaling $50 million of acquired sales in Utah, Oregon, California, Texas, the Midwest, New York and in most of the Southeastern states. Most of these acquisitions were of multi-location regional distributors spanning multiple franchise territories, with over one hundred locations consolidated and turned over to franchisees.
System-wide sales have continued to grow throughout the transition period, through 2012. By the beginning of 2013 approximately 210 locations served mostly every major market in the U.S. and Canada. The customer database has also grown rapidly, with many more information fields (customer attributes) on the more than 300,000 wholesale automotive businesses in the country.