Firestone is open for business in Canal Winchester.

Firestone is open for business in Canal Winchester.

The 7,609-square-foot Firestone Complete Auto Care Center opened on Jan. 14 at 6574 Winchester Blvd.

Firestone district manager Pat Mattes said Canal Winchester was a good location for the company because of the growth in the area and in the Columbus market.

The company typically likes to open a new store when there are 50,000 roof tops with a $50,000 household income, he said.

"Canal does not fit that parameter," Mattes said. "Potentially, we see that happening."

He said company officials also liked the expansion in the area and growth at state Route 33 and Gender Road and along Route 33 from Canal Winchester to Lancaster.

Store manager Dan Weimer said the new Firestone outlet is a "full-service facilty" that will operate from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Firestone employs nine people, Weimer said. Mattes said two of them moved to Canal Winchester when they heard a new store was opening.

Site plans for the service center were approved by the Canal Winchester Planning Commission last February. Village zoning officer Andrew Dutton said Firestone passed its final building inspection Jan. 14 and received a temporary zoning occupancy permit on Jan. 13.

"The temporary zoning occupancy was issued for a number of reasons, mainly that the property needs to be graded to plan, (have new sod) or seeded," he said. "These issues were anticipated and are typical for construction completed in the winter."

The proposal for an auto care center first came before the planning commission in October 2009 when members voted 4-2 to approve a conditional use for an auto-related business at the site.

Mattes said once a site plan is approved, it typically takes the company eight to 10 months to get a store up in running. For the Canal Winchester location, there were some back orders on the garage doors and a delay with a gas line, he said.

"We obviously have project managers," he said. "We have all these other stores. Until they say, 'I'm about to give you the keys,' I don't get that involved. We were hoping to be open some time in October or November 2010."

Firestone officials previously stated the average number of customers they have at similar Complete Auto Care Centers around the country amounts to about 26 cars per day.

Bridgestone, which owns and operates Firestone, is in the midst of a nationwide expansion; the new Canal Winchester facility is part of that expansion.

Bridgestone currently operates more than 2,500 locations with more than 33,000 employees. The company's goal is to open 100 new stores a year as a group, Mattes said.