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Hankook Eyes a Move Up The Charts, Dealers Told

(Akron/Tire Review) After experiencing a record-breaking 2005, Hankook Tire Co. is setting its sights on breaking into the top five of global tiremakers.

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At its recent dealer meeting in Jamaica, Hankook Tire America Corp. officials told the 140 dealers in attendance of the company’s sales and marketshare growth in 2005, and its plans for continued growth in 2006.

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“In 2005, our company achieved the best sales record in our history in the U.S. market. Our sales exceeded $500 million in contributing to more than $2.5 billion in Hankook tires sales globally,” said J.W. Choi, Hankook Tire America’s president. “Our goal is to become one of the top five tire manufacturers in the world. Right now we are number eight. This is largely due our dealers’ efforts, and once again I say…Thank You!”

Bill Finn, Hankook’s senior vice president, said, “Based on our latest sales information, Hankook domestic passenger and light truck tire marketshare now exceeds 3.3%. Pretty impressive in a very competitive marketplace. And in the very important ultra-high performance segment, Hankook sales are up 500% from 2002-2005 and we have increased our marketshare from 2.6% to more than 6.4%.”

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Hankook’s OE business is also growing, Finn told dealers, and its North American OE marketshare stands at 3.3%. “With our current ground fitments at Ford and Saturn and new fitments we’ll announce soon on new models from Ford, Chevy, Saturn, Hyundai models and a 2007 fitment at Chrysler, we believe we’re building a strong platform that will generate more consumer brand preference and that means more replacement sales for our dealers,” he said.

And the new OE business extends past passenger vehicles. Finn told dealers that Hankook had just signed an agreement to supply medium truck radials to International.

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Focusing on the meeting’s “Growing Forward” theme, Bill Bainbridge, marketing director, outlined Hankook’s 2006 marketing strategy and goals. Bainbridge said the company will focus on positioning Hankook as a technology focused and market driven company; strengthen its dealer base and increase the number of points-of-sale that carry Hankook products; increase brand awareness, brand preference and brand loyalty; and expand its brand building efforts in local markets

“Going forward, we have to continue to do what we’ve been doing successfully. ‘Growing Forward’ we have to be even more focused on when, where and how we communicate with consumers and motivate them to choose Hankook,” Bainbridge said. “We don’t have the spending resources of some of our competitors so we have to be both creative and intuitive. We also have to work more closely with our dealers to ensure we have a higher profile in local markets.”

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Bainbridge also unveiled Hankook’s new Dynapro MT RT03, a mud terrain light truck/SUV radial for off-road applications. The tire is available in 20 LT-metric and flotation sizes covering 16- through 22-inch wheel diameters.

Also new is the Optimo H727, a T-rated all-season touring line that carries a UTQG rating of 700AB. The line comes with a 100,000-mile treadwear warranty, and is available in 26 sizes covering 14- to 17-inch wheel diameters.

Bainbridge continued: “New products like the Dynapro MT RT03, Optimo H727, and Ventus AS RH07 continue to show that we understand what consumers want and that we have the technology to deliver. Through an expanded motorsports program, focused national consumer print advertising campaign, strategic highway billboard placements, sports marketing through MLB and NBA signage and enhanced local dealer support programs, Hankook and its family of dealers is well prepared to ‘Grow Forward’ in 2006.”

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“Hankook had a great year in 2005, and I believe 2006 is going to be even better for all of us,” said Choi at the meeting’s conclusion. “We have the technology to develop the right products for the right markets, and we certainly have the right team of dealers who know how to sell Hankook tires.”

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