After Years of Change, 'Driven' Goodyear Sees More Than Tires - Tire Review Magazine

After Years of Change, ‘Driven’ Goodyear Sees More Than Tires

To best understand the tone of the recent Goodyear dealer meeting, it’s important to start at the end.

"We make people’s lives better."

That’s how Rich Kramer, 47, wrapped up his keynoter to some 1,500 tire dealers plus their employees and spouses, and Goodyear associates gathered at the massive Gaylord Texan hotel near Dallas.
GoodyearNorth AmericanTire PresidentCurt Andersson
What the chairman, CEO and president of Goodyear referenced was how he and the company view their place in the world. It’s not about selling round-n-black anymore, Kramer inferred, it’s about all the things a quality tire and organization – including its independent distribution – means, like safety and technology and trust and value and comfort, and so on.

Kramer ran down the curtain on the largest North American dealer meeting in recent memory, a huge attendance given that Goodyear had no ground-breaking product to unveil, and certainly no angry hoard of dealers to placate. The theme – More Driven – matched the result, and dealers were happy with what they heard and saw over two days in Texas, whether it was in the formal presentations, on the trade show floor or in private conversation with Goodyear folks.

The meeting was the first for North America Tire President Curt Andersson, who joined the tiremaker from automotive supplier Crouse-Hinds just after the 2010 dealer meeting.

Andersson gave the U.S. and Cana­dian dealers gathered an overview of how Goodyear’s “market back” strategy – unveiled last year – has worked. Looking forward into 2011, Andersson said, “market strategies, operations excellence and innovation will continue to be our priorities as we pursue our goal” of “sustainable profitability.”

“Our priorities won’t change. Innovation – in products, systems and services – will continue to be Good­year’s lifeblood,” he said. “We have plans and people in place to drive consumers to you and have the right supply of tires there for you to sell.”

Rolling with the “More Driven” theme, Andersson said, “We believe the stability and consistency with which we go to market – in consumer, commercial and off-road – will contribute to keeping our momentum going.”

In fact, the “More Driven” theme was driven home more through the presentations by other NAT executives, in each trade show display and during each event.

Continuing with the NAT speakers, Jack Winterton, now chief customer officer, reflected on opportunities. Borrowing from Tire Review dealer survey statistics, Winterton noted that 85% of tire purchases are directly influenced by the dealer. That being the case, he said, “our reputations – yours and Goodyear’s – are intently connected.”

He also recognized that each dealer is a little different and should be treated as such. “We are living the change, and we believe you’ve seen and felt the change. Although we may not agree on everything…we truly believe the way we earn your respect is by building value for both of us, and by being consistent with our decisions and our actions. Yes, we have out a stake in the ground – we stand for something, we plan to stay true to our beliefs, to run our business in a way that is consistent with our fundamental values.”

Following with the “More Driven” framework, Winterton passed the speaker’s baton off to Todd Pickens, senior director of channel sales, and Steve McClellan, president of consumer tire NAT, who spoke alternately about Goodyear’s wholesale network and its new Tire & Service Network (more on that later), and the elements of what McClellan called a “sustainable, market-back business” based on “engaged associates and engaged business allies.”
Rich Kramer, chairman, president and CEO.
It was then left to Scott Rogers, chief marketing officer, to show how “More Driven” would be communicated to drivers and prospective tire buyers. And that he did, unveiling new TV commercial creative – including dealer-taggable versions – as well as tastes of consumer print ads and online efforts. Created by “GSD&M of Austin, Texas, the new campaign and creative direction is intended to communicate Goodyear’s values, attitude and commitment to consumers,” the company said.

Tapping into a range of vehicles and situations that demand quality tires, the campaign formally kicks off Feb. 20 during the telecast of the Daytona 500. The print component will launch in Sports Illustrated, Popular Science, Time, Parenting, National Geographic Traveler and Outside. On the interactive front, “More Driven” will be supported by search marketing, in addition to appearing on popular search engines and websites.

On the commercial side, Joe Copeland, vice president of commercial tire systems; Donn Kramer, director of marketing; Doug Beasley, vice president of business solutions; and Doug Whittington, director of sales; talked about new products, new tools for dealers and fleets (including FleetHQ Value Calculators, GTracsNG, TV Track), and how those tools can be brought to bear to increase sales opportunities.

Back to the new Goodyear Tire & Service Network, the replacement for the Gemini Automotive Care program, which many dealers felt was poorly supported by the tiremaker. Pickens said the new Tire & Service Network was an evolutionary step, not a wholesale replacement. The program “will take the value-added benefits that dealers have enjoyed under the Gemini program, and add elements that will help increase traffic, tire sales, product supply and cash flow,” he said.

With input from Gemini dealers, the transition to the Tire & Service Network began last October, and is now expanding to additional Goodyear dealers. While there is no cost for a dealer to participate, dealers in the network must meet a number of requirements, Pickens said.

For that, the benefits include improved fill rates on Goodyear’s core product screen; a featured listing on Goodyear’s online retailer locator; a dedicated Goodyear field sales contact; a 2.5% cut in national account administrative fees; a “mystery shopper” program; online training; parts rebate programs; a Kendall Oil program, a 12-month/12,000-mile nationwide limited warranty program; a 1% point-of-sale incentive; equipment and uniform programs; and Motorist Assurance Program membership.

New Products
While no major products were unveiled, Goodyear still tipped a number of new tire products during the dealer meeting.

• Goodyear Assurance TripleTred premium all-season, available this summer in 22 P-metric and metric sizes covering 15- to 18-inch wheels. Replacing the original Assurance TripleTred, the directional tire carries an 80,000-mile tread warranty for T- and H-rated sizes and a 70,000-mile warranty for V-rated sizes.

• Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 UHP will begin shipping in June, with 28 initial sizes.

• Kelly Safari ATR, a light truck/SUV radial, will roll in August in 32 sizes over 15- to 20-inch wheels and carry a 50,000-mile tread life warranty for P-metric sizes and a 40,000-mile warranty for light truck sizes.

• 27 new P-metric sizes for the Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice WRT, which was launched in 2010.

• Goodyear G392 SSD, the company’s very first super wide drive tire, featuring both DuraSeal and Fuel Max technologies. Accompanying G392 Unicircle and precure retread also were introduced.

• Goodyear G394, a super wide trailer radial, also with DuraSeal and Fuel Max technologies. Accompanying G394 Unicircle and precure retread also were introduced.

• Goodyear G572 LHD Fuel Max drive, a SmartWay verified 30/32-inch tire. Size 11R22.5 comes with a built-in RFID tag.

• Goodyear G278 MSD succeeds the G178 for severe service applications, and is available in sizes 385/65R22.5, 425/65R22.5 and 445/65R22.5. There also is a precure retread for the tire.

• Waste hauler tire G289 WHA gets a new Unicircle retread.

• Dunlop SP46, a 28/32-inch drive tire in sizes 11R22.5G, 11R24.5G, 295/75R22.5G and 285/75R24.5G.

• Kelly KTD, an open shoulder regional drive in sizes 225/70R19.5 and 245/70R19.5.

• Goodyear G619 RST Unicircle retread for sizes 11R22.5 and 295/75R22.5.

Closing out the two-day meeting, Kramer returned.

“The worst is behind us,” he said in his address at the end of the meeting. Optimistic about the short- and long-term future of the tire industry and the N.A. market, Kramer added, “This is still the best market to sell tires.”

“We will strengthen our leadership position in this industry through innovation, with a focused business model, a solid supply chain and with our people, who are committed to helping you grow your business.

“We make people’s lives better.”

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