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December 19, 2016

VIP buys Auburn office building

Photo courtesy Malone Commercial Brokers VIP Inc. has purchased this 15,351-square-foot office building at 24 Harriman Drive in Auburn for $1.375 million to accommodate the company's need for a larger headquarters and support center.

AUBURN — VIP Inc., whose president and CEO has family roots in the tire business going back to 1926, has purchased a 15,351-square-foot office building at 24 Harriman Drive in Auburn to accommodate the company’s need for a larger headquarters and support center.

VIP, which owns VIP Tires & Service, purchased the property for $1.375 million from Patrons Oxford Insurance Co. Tom Moulton from NAI The Dunham Group represented VIP and Andrew Ingalls from Malone Commercial Brokers represented the seller in the deal, which closed Oct. 6.

VIP President and CEO John Quirk said it was 90 years ago that his grandfather, Edward S. Quirk Sr., established Quirk Tire in Watertown, Mass.

“My grandfather got into tires just before Ford introduced the Model A,” said Quirk. “My grandfather was in his early 20s when he started peddling used tires. And that led to him to becoming a dealer for U.S. Rubber, which, back in the day, was the largest supplier of original equipment tires in the U.S. Then he opened his own store in 1926 with 1,500 square feet on North Beacon Street in Watertown. They used to change all the tires out on the sidewalk.”

Edward Sr.’s son, Edward Jr., managed Quirk Tire from 1955 to 1985. John Quirk took over in 1985.

Fifteen years ago, two weeks after Sept. 11, 2001, Quirk bought VIP, put all holdings under the VIP name, and moved with his wife and kids from Massachusetts to Maine. At the time, Quirk Tire had just two locations and was focused mainly on sales and service of tires for the construction industry, with some retail. VIP had 42 locations at the time, and was strictly retail.

VIP was founded as L&A Tire Co., in 1958, in Lewiston, by Thomas Auger, who changed the company’s name to VIP Discount Auto Center as business grew to include auto parts and accessories, according to a publication called Tire Business.

Today, VIP operates 56 locations in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. One of the locations is the original Quirk store in Watertown. VIP has a workforce of just over 500 employees throughout its locations; about 45 of those employees work at the headquarters and support center.

A long-awaited move to larger HQ

For the last 30 years, that location has been at 12 Lexington St. in Lewiston. It’s about 10,000 square feet of office space, plus 100,000 square feet of warehouse space. VIP has leased those quarters to another party since finalizing the 24 Harriman Drive purchase. But Patrons Oxford is remaining at 24 Harriman Drive, on a lease from VIP, until next summer. For now, VIP has found temporary space at 10 Falcon Road in Lewiston.

The wait for 24 Harriman Drive will have been worth it, said Quirk.

“We spent a lot of time looking at the Auburn and Lewiston marketplace, and we felt this was the best building to meet our needs,” he said. “It’s a Class A office building and it was the exact size we needed — 15,000 square feet. We’re growing and we wanted additional office capacity over what we had in Lewiston. And the building is in really good shape.”

For its warehouse needs, VIP has outsourced its replenishment logistics.

Built in 1990, the single-story office building, on 2.7 acres, is in an office park just off Exit 75 of the Maine Turnpike. Highlights include a layout of a mix of perimeter offices, open area, conference rooms and a reception area. There are 54 marked parking spaces onsite. The building has been well-maintained. Quirk expects only some light office redesign and painting to be done.

“It also has full backup generator power, which is important for us,” said Quirk. “We’re open seven days a week and, even in an ice storm, we still need to provide IT support for all our stores. All our mainframe computers that support all our points of sales stores, and all our credit card machines, are driven off the IT department and that infrastructure.”

The additional square-footage is desirable both for the company’s growth and to accommodate larger gatherings of personnel, such as company-wide and regional sales and district management meetings and training from outside vendors.

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