A major tire manufacturer is making a strategic investment in a mobile vehicle services company with the aim of expediting digital commerce.
Bridgestone Americas, a unit of Bridgestone Corp., the world’s largest tire and rubber company based in Japan, is acquiring a 10% stake in Wrench, a Seattle-based mobile vehicle services and technology company. Terms of the deal weren’t announced.
But the key reason for making the deal is to help Nashville-based Bridgestone Americas, which merged with Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. in 1992, use digital technology to pair Bridgestone’s more than 2,200? company-owned automotive service stores with Wrench’s complementary mobile services marketplace, which include on-site automotive maintenance, access to roadside and towing, vehicle detailing, and Lemon Squad, used-vehicle inspection service.
“With the rise of ecommerce and on-demand services, consumer preferences for car maintenance and car care are changing,” says Bridgestone Americas president of mobility solutions Brian Goldstine. “Wrench, combined with our company-owned retail stores and affiliated dealer partners, will create a service platform that gives consumers trusted automotive service with added convenience and flexibility.”
Bridgestone and Wrench will launch their initial integration plans later this year, allowing Bridgestone retail stores to plug into Wrench as a referral business, the company says. Wrench customers will be able to book advanced vehicle service appointments at a local Firestone store, and existing Bridgestone retail customers can book future mobile service appointments using Wrench.
Wrench was founded in 2016, primarily as an ecommerce and mobile vehicle service for consumers that wanted to book appointments for vehicle repair at a convenient location. But in recent years, the company also expanded into B2B ecommerce with a similar business model for fleet operators, such as for trucks, buses, taxis, and delivery vehicles. Wrench also operates a truck maintenance scheduling and logistics platform.
Wrench has been consistently raising money to fund its growth even before its new deal with Bridgestone Americas. To date the company has raised more than $40 million, according to Crunchbase.com. But the deal with Bridgestone gives Wrench access to a much broader consumer and business market, says CEO Ed Petersen.
“Bridgestone will help accelerate the industry’s digital transformation,” he says. “This allows both companies to expand our customer offerings, while growing our technologies and vehicle care expertise together.”
Wrench is the latest in a series of digital technology applications acquisitions. In 2015, Bridgestone Americas acquired TireConnect Systems, a software company that supports tire dealers and distributors in North America (primarily Canada) with ecommerce capabilities.
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