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First Midas Franchisee Hugh Landrum helps company celebrate 40th anniversary in Chicago ceremonies.

CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 25, 1996--Hugh B. Landrum, Jr., of Columbus, Ga., returned to Chicago today to participate in ceremonies marking the 40th anniversary of his signing of the first franchise agreement of Midas International Corporation, an event which launched the automotive quick-service specialists industry.

Midas is the oldest, continuously operating franchisor in the automotive aftermarket service industry.

Today at a Midas shop in Chicago, Landrum joined John R. Moore, Midas International's president and chief executive officer, in celebrating the 40th anniversary. Together, Landrum and Moore also welcomed "Class of 1996" franchisees Joe and Lorri Helkamp of Shakopee, Minn., into the Midas program.

Midas grew out of Chicago-based International Parts Company, a distributor of automotive parts founded in 1938 by Nate H. Sherman.

In the mid-Fifties, Sherman had begun exploring methods to enter the retail auto service market to take advantage of the record number of post-war cars on the road which were over-stressing the capacity of independent service operators.

It was on April 20, 1956, that Landrum was in Chicago to visit his business associate and friend Sherman to sign the document that turned Landrum's Macon, Ga., auto repair shop into the nation's first Midas Muffler Shop.

Within the first year after Landrum signed on, there were 100 Midas shops in 40 states. Company founder Sherman had recognized that franchising provided the most efficient route for expansion.

Today, there are 2,614 Midas Auto Systems Experts stores in 15 countries, including 1,881 in the United States. Others are in Canada, Mexico, Latin America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan.

There are more than 700 Midas franchisees in the United States.

All Midas locations service exhaust, brakes, steering and suspension systems, and in some markets, they offer oil changes, air conditioning service and installation of retrofit air bags. Midas International's worldwide retail sales were $1.5 billion in 1995. Retail sales in the United States were $1.1 billion last year.

"Prior to Midas, motorists had to go to auto dealerships or independent mechanics for exhaust service and often had to leave their cars for a day or two while they obtained parts," Landrum said.

"Nate Sherman developed the concept of opening auto repair shops for quick muffler replacements by stocking a broad inventory of mufflers and pipes to specialize in exhaust service," Landrum explained.

In today's ceremony, Midas' President Moore recognized the contribution of Landrum and his fellow early franchisees in the development of Midas.

"The success of Midas over the years has been the result of the entrepreneurial spirit and hard work of our franchisees," Moore said. "Hugh Landrum took a great risk by being the first franchisee in an unproven auto service concept. However, Hugh and his colleagues had the vision and perseverance to build the Midas system one shop at a time and one customer at a time. We owe a debt of gratitude to them for their dedication and efforts."

Moore also praised the Helkamps, who purchased an existing Midas store in Minnesota in mid-March. Both the Helkamps are maritime engineers who have spent the past 14 years working as engineers onboard ships or at shipyards.

"As Joe and Lorri Helkamp begin their new lives as Midas franchisees, they, too, are taking the risks traditionally associated with owning their own business," Moore said. "The same entrepreneurial spirit which inspired Hugh Landrum and his colleagues 40 years ago will motivate Joe and Lorri to make their new business successful."

As part of today's ceremony, Moore, Landrum and the Helkamps cut a large muffler-shaped 40th anniversary cake.

"Midas has had many `firsts' over the years, including being the first to offer the revolutionary guarantee of a free replacement muffler for as long as the customer owns the car and the first exhaust specialist to advertise on network radio and television," Moore said.

"As Midas moves towards the new century, we will continue to expand and improve our business in the United States and other countries by building on the legacy provided to us by individuals such as Nate Sherman and Hugh Landrum," Moore said.

Midas employs 3,450 worldwide, including 250 at its headquarters in Illinois Center in Chicago.

The company produces exhaust pipes at a plant in Bedford Park, Ill., and manufactures 1,600 models of mufflers in Hartford, Wis. Midas produces exhaust components to fit 96 percent of the cars on the road today.

Its Huth Manufacturing Company division plant in Hartford makes pipe-bending equipment used in Midas shops worldwide.

Midas International Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Whitman Corporation of Rolling Meadows, Ill.

CONTACT: Midas International Corporation, Chicago

Bob Troyer, 312/565-7833
COPYRIGHT 1996 Business Wire
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Date:Apr 25, 1996
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