In what has been compared to an “industry family reunion,” approximately 1,300 Goodyear dealers and distributors from across North America gathered in late January at the Gaylord Resort in Orlando for the Goodyear Customer Conference. The three-day event themed “Driven to Grow” highlighted the company’s focus on people, products and connected growth strategies for the tire brand.
The alignment of product, process, value and distribution were key themes to the presentations, wrapped around the idea of the “connected business model.” This model is a strategy that brings together five components: the Goodyear brand, its strength in OE, innovative and respected products, dealer and distribution programs and interactive/digital capabilities.
Ryan Patterson, head of North America consumer tire division, addressed the significant shifts in the Goodyear distribution network with a mention of more to come. He said the tire company has gone from more than 50 authorized Goodyear distributors to just 18 in a few short years.
He also spoke of the trends in consumer replacement tires and cited research that illustrates the company’s strong lead in brand awareness.
“The Goodyear name is so powerful in the minds of consumers that they credit Goodyear with sports sponsorships actually owned by competitors,” Patterson said. “These are big-time sports, like Major League Baseball, the NHL and NBA. Consumers don’t always know the tire sponsor but when asked, they name Goodyear.”
Aligning marketing activities to build that brand awareness is Goodyear Chief Marketing Officer Scott Rogers. He provided an overview of multiple marketing and sponsorship programs in 2016 – from free tires for “Akron Born” babies during the NBA playoffs to multiple sports sponsorships and college football bowl coverage. Rogers also detailed the ways the digital team has attempted to make Goodyear tires easier to buy and how engineers have worked to create new product innovations.
Advancing the conversation on the Goodyear value, Steve McClellan, president of the Americas, answered questions solicited from dealers in advance, including pricing strategy, imported tires and why it’s important not to sell on price alone.
“The real opportunity for sustainable growth continues to be in the high-value, high complexity large-rim diameter tires,” he said. “You know, almost anybody can make a 17-inch tire that fits a 17-inch wheel. But that does not make the tire high value. Value comes from performance, traction, treadwear, reliability and, of course, the most important one is the service when it’s sold and installed by all of you.”
The event kicked off with speaker and best-selling author Chester Elton on the importance of creating a corporate culture where employees are truly engaged, which translates into happier customers and business growth. The conference ended with a trend-spotting keynote from Goodyear CEO Rich Kramer and a private performance by Lady Antebellum. A transcription of Kramer’s speech is available, here.
The event also introduced a slew of new product releases for both passenger and commercial tire segments.
Assurance WeatherReady: The Assurance WeatherReady is the newest addition to the Assurance line, designed for confidence and handling in wet, dry and slippery conditions, Goodyear said. “Evolving traction grooves” help improve performance as the tire wears and zig-zag biting edges help to ensure stability in any weather.
With an anticipated release of early fall 2017, the Assurance WeatherReady will be available in sizes ranging from 15 to 20 inches, intended to cover 77% of cars, minivans and SUVs on the road.
Endurance RSA: A commercial truck tire designed for urban and regional fleets, the Endurance RSA offers more miles to removal, lower rolling resistance and more resistance to curb impact damage than its predecessor, the Goodyear G661 HSA.
The tire’s contoured sipes offer ideal tread stiffness through its footprint for better wear and high mileage potential (plus snow traction), Goodyear said.
Additionally, the Endurance RSA features a steel casing with super-tensile steel belts for extra toughness and durability, and a premium casing for optimal retreadability. The tire is now available in size 11R22.5, in load ranges G and H, with more sizes will be introduced later this year.
Endurance WHA: A waste haul tire and matching retread designed with fleet operating cost reduction in mind, the Endurance WHA features new sidewall protector shingles to help resist sidewall scuffing in high-scrub applications. Additionally, the tire has a steel belt and casing package for better endurance and retreadability, a shoulder design that promotes uniform tread wear, four wide circumferential grooves for all-season traction and a wide footprint to enhance cornering and handling on local streets, the tiremaker said.
The Endurance WHA is available in size 315/80R22.5, load range L.
Fuel Max RSA: A SmartWay-compliant tire designed for long haul fleets seeking fuel efficiency, the Fuel Max RSA is made up of cool-running compounds and a tire construction and tread design to help lower rolling resistance and improve fuel economy, Goodyear said.
The tire features contoured sipes for tread stiffness to help provide regular wear and high mileage potential, plus enhanced snow and ice grip and a tri-layer compound for lower rolling resistance and curb impact resistance.
Additionally, the tire’s non-evolving tread is designed to help maintain traction as the tire wears, and super-tensile steel belts add stability and strength, while a steel casing construction offers optimal retreadability, the tiremaker adds.
The Fuel Max RSA is now available in size 11R22.5, load range G. Additional sizes – including 295/75R22.5 and 11R24.5 in load ranges G and H, and 11R22.5 in load range H – will be introduced in early 2017.
Endurance Trailer Tires: Designed for tow trailers and recreational vehicles, the Goodyear Endurance features Goodyear Durawall Technology, which helps resist sidewall cuts and punctures. Rugged fabric steel construction helps improve durability and carrying capacity while remaining compatible with TPMS and typical tire inflation stations. Additionally, the tread is designed to cool the tire while carrying heavy loads and scuff guards protect the sidewalls and an inner liner to minimize air loss on trailer applications, Goodyear said.
The tire is available in load ranges D and E and has an N speed rating for today’s highway speeds (up to 87 mph.) Goodyear also unveiled a new trailer tire size, ST 255/85R16, which they internally nicknamed “the beast.”
New Kelly Long Haul Products: In reaffirming the commitment to the Kelly brand, Goodyear also introduced three new Kelly long haul truck tires at the event: the Kelly Armorsteel LHS, Kelly Armorsteel LHT, and Kelly Armorsteel LHD.
The Kelly Armorsteel LHS, which is designed for the steer axle position, features a uniquely shaped pressure distribution groove to help minimize shoulder wear and a barrel-shaped footprint. The tire also has edge blades and a five-rib design to offer long miles to removal and low cost-per-mile, plus exposed angle grooves to help enhance traction as the tire wears.
The Kelly Armorsteel LHT trailer tire features a center groove design to help resist stone drilling and help evacuate water for enhanced wet traction. Additionally, the tire features a low tread void for long miles and a decoupling groove to help minimize shoulder wear.
The Kelly Armorsteel LHD drive tire will be introduced after its steer and trailer position counterparts are in market.
All three tires will be available in sizes 11R22.5, 11R24.5, 295/75R22.5 and 285/75R24.5, all load range G, and come with a four-year warranty.