The real money is in the annual $37 million in “shop” sales, which covers everything other than gas: tires, parts and auto repairs.
Based on similar companies I have written about, I estimate that Virginia Tire & Auto ends up with a profit in the low, single-digit millions. Holmes wouldn’t comment on profit, saying only that he is salaried and earns a percentage on the store operations, mostly owned by Boncarosky. Holmes and his wife, however, have a small share (in addition to the stake in real estate).
Holmes said the company has purchased what he calls “two A locations” in Northern Virginia and hopes to build stores on them in the next three years. The real estate aspect, which is his area of expertise, is difficult because he faces competition from fast-food chains and big drugstores, like Walgreens and CVS, for the best spots.
Boncarosky lives in the same house he bought in 1979 for $136,000, although he and his wife have made a few concessions to success: They own luxury cars and a beach house.
“Given what he’s built, he lives fairly modest,” Holmes said.
They also own some commercial townhouse condos near George Mason University, the area where Virginia Tire & Auto’s headquarters are located. Inside is a rabbit warren of offices and conference rooms where 18 administrative employees work.
The place is littered with whiteboards, on which Holmes has scrawled his ideas and diagrams for the business’s future.
He points to a stack of feel-good messages that you find on those daily office calendars that sit on your desk. He points to one by McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc: “If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing . . . success will be yours.”
For previous Added Value columns, go to www.washingtonpost.com/business. Follow Tom Heath on Twitter at @addedvalueth.