On December 24, Oregon tire giant Les Schwab confirmed that they had hired Goldman Sachs to sell the company, which Bloomberg News estimates to be worth $3 billion.
The decision surprised many, as the late Les Schwab himself had always made clear his intent that the business remain within the family, having turned down offers by Michelin and Warren Buffet in the past.
In 1997, Schwab said to The Oregonian “This company isn’t for sale. It will go on, bigger and better than ever and continue to provide opportunities for young people to be successful. All the stock will remain in our family.”
According to a statement from the family shareholders, the decision to sell was made in the interest of preserving the company.
“Given the complexities of a fifth-generation family business, and managing a company of our size, we are at an important point in the life of Les Schwab Tire Centers,” they said. “As our family grows and ages, it is increasingly critical to us that ownership remain committed and aligned behind our grandfather’s vision.”
The company is a major regional employer, both at its corporate headquarters in Bend and its manufacturing center in Prineville, leading to concerns over the potential sale.
“For a community like Prineville that had some really big losses on the manufacturing side and wood products, (a sale) would create a level of uncertainty in that community in particular,” said Damon Runberg of the Oregon Employment Department. “And a firm of that size with that many professional jobs in someplace like Bend, that would probably make anybody nervous.”
By Brandon Urey