Nashville-based Bridgestone Americas recently announced that it had purchased 10 percent of Seattle-based mobile vehicle services startup Wrench.
The Post spoke with Brian Goldstine, president of mobility services at Bridgestone, about the investment.
What prompted this investment in Wrench?
The strategy and our intent in creating a greater breadth of concierge services predates the pandemic. We see this as a broader set of macrotrends which has been moving in this direction in terms of individual drivers and fleets wanting to leverage digital platforms to receive a breadth of different types of products, services and solutions in the way that is most convenient for them — whether that be in a brick-and-mortar store or in a mobile type of way. Our engagement with Wrench really started last year.
Will Bridgestone and Wrench merge staff or leadership teams?
We made a minority investment in Wrench but they are still a separate company. We think about this more like a partnership and we will work to provide referrals based on what the customer is looking for in types of services, but we will not be merging our teams.
How do Brigestone and Wrench plan to go about merging their service offerings to the consumer? Will there be a joint app?
We are actively working with the Wrench team. Currently, we are piloting in three West Coast markets to determine the best path forward to the consumer with the greater breadth of services provided based on our Bridgestone and Wrench partnership. There’s still more to come, but the idea is that we would make it visible to the consumer — be it through web-based tools, in store or through an app perhaps. Essentially, we are trying to allow them to have more access to services through a way they would like them delivered. In our test markets, we are leveraging our existing brick-and-mortar platforms to provide referrals back to Wrench. We’ll also leverage existing Wrench platforms such as their Lemon Squad Inspection part of their business to refer back to Firestone Complete Auto Care or perhaps their actual technicians who are servicing a vehicle and have a referral back to Firestone for tire needs.
Will there be a transaction or referral fee structure in place for Firestone and Wrench?
We will have the proper mechanisms in place to enable the flow of the work to who needs to receive the work. Specifically what that mechanism is we don’t know yet. We are still working on figuring that out with the Wrench team, but we will make sure that we have the right connection points.
When will Bridgestone and Wrench launch their integration of services nationwide?
Good question. At this point, we are mostly focused on the work within the pilot markets and being agile in assessing success. We will scale appropriately from there. We have not put a timetable to expansion beyond the current markets.
After the test phase, what markets will Wrench and Bridgestone target in the roll out?
Wrench has a pretty broad national footprint already. Wrench is a national business. Bridgestone is a national business, so expansion won’t be dictated by region. It’s really about proving the concept and then expanding.