By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
A day after news broke of Les Schwab Tires selling to a California-based investment firm, residents of the company’s original home had mixed reactions on the end of a nearly 70-year era.
“Kind of makes my heart sad to see it go. I hope it stays in town under a new owner and there is not a lot of economic disruption,” said Prineville resident Dennis Avery.
Les Schwab Tire Company employs 7,000 people at 500 tire stores in 10 states.
Operations and management will remain unchanged after the transition to the Meritage Group according to statements.
“A firm like Meritage Group largely exists for the purposes of making an investment in a privately-held company towards the goal of achieving some objective that has the company be worth more at a later point in time than it currently is,” said
William Valentine, president of Valentine Ventures.
Valentine, a Central Oregon-based financial advisor, says the agreement to sell is a good decision by the Les Schwab family to diversify its concentration of wealth in one company.
“Then, eventually, there’s a transaction on the other end where Meritage Group might get out,” he said. “They might sell it to a related company or another competitor or sometimes they’ll even take the company and try to bring it to the stock exchange and make it a publicly-traded company.”
Meritage Group, a family-owned private investment firm founded by Nat Simons, invests in public and private companies across a variety of sectors.
It continues to own to this day Portland, Oregon-based national beverage distributor Columbia Distributing, which it acquired in 2012.
“I’m sorry to see it happen. It could happen well,” said John Breese of Prineville. “When Les was alive, the shops were really working well and very efficient. It’s not been quite that well since he passed away but I’m hoping that the bean counters don’t start taking it apart.”
The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The sale is expected to be completed by the end of the year.