Michelin Going direct
Company will market BFGoodrich Scorcher T/A’s over the Internet
Michelin America Small Tires plans to harness both its manufacturing capability and the power of the Internet, announcing that it will begin selling custom colors and configurations of its unique BFGoodrich Scorcher T/A tires direct to consumers via e-commerce.
The tire maker announced its plans during its dealer meeting in the Bahamas in early January. No timetable for the launch of its direct-to-consumer Internet program was announced.
Scorcher T/A performance tires can be manufactured with a wide range of colors in the tread. The customized Scorcher T/As are possible, said Michelin, because of its automated C3M plant in Greenville, S.C. Michelin’s C3M technology allows for cost efficient short runs of specific tires, sizes and colors.
According to Michelin officials, consumers would be able to order customized Scorcher T/A’s on-line, choosing up to two of eight colors to be displayed on three ribs in the tread. For this service, customers will have to pay more — a premium of $50 to $80 more than the company’s standard yellow, red or blue versions of the tire.
The company said dealers would be compensated for installing the tires, which would be delivered to the customer in six to eight weeks. Any balancing or additional warranties would be at the consumers discretion through the dealer.
In a recent interview with Tire Review, Michelin North America President Jim Micali discussed his company’s plans for direct e-commerce sales to consumers. “Like most major companies, we are currently evaluating the role e-commerce will play in the future of our business. While we believe there may be some future potential for selling tires on the Internet, we believe the bigger opportunity today is in improving the consumer satisfaction of the total tire purchase process. If e-commerce can help improve the consumer purchase experience, then it may have a future in the tire business.”
Distribution consolidation heats up in North America
Two separate deals in Canada and the U.S. — and ambitious future plans by the purchasing parties ®” are bringing further consolidation to the distribution side of the tire business. And one strengthens a major tire maker’s hold on independent North American distribution.
In one extensive deal, Edmonton-based Fountain Tire Corp., 49 percent owned by Goodyear Canada, purchased 14 retail and commercial locations from Goodyear Canada. The locations, which includes a retread plant, gives Fountain Tire some 132 total locations, and will bring the company’s annual sales to approximately $190C million.
In announcing the purchase, the company said it’s goal was to own 200 retail and commercial outlets in western Canada, and is actively looking for other opportunities. Fountain Tire is exclusively Goodyear, so the sale to Fountain retains Goodyear Canada’s share while reducing its financial obligations.
In the U.S., American-Pacific Tire Distributing Inc., based in Simi Valley, Calif., merged with the Alabama-based Southern Rubber Co. American-Pacific, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Tokyo-based Itochu Corp., is parent of 99 Tire Pros retail outlets and a wholesale business. Southern Rubber includes six retail stores, an Oliver retread plant, two commercial tire operations, and four warehouses — all in Alabama.
CGT earns high honors from John Deere
For the fourth consecutive year, Continental General Tire Inc.’s (CGT) Commercial Division has earned Partner status in John Deere Davenport Works’ Achieving Excellence Program.
CGT is an OE supplier for John Deere loaders and other equipment. The annual award is made based on supplier proficiency in product quality, delivery, technical support, cost management and responsiveness.
Michelin back on Formula One race circuit
After a 16-year absence, Michelin is re-entering Formula One racing as a tire supplier, and will go head-to-head with Bridgestone Corp. in the world-wide series. Beginning with the 2001 racing season, Michelin will supply F1 tires to the BMW/Williams team, and two seasons later the tire maker will supply Team Toyota’s planned entries.
Michelin, which won 59 Grand Prix, three driver’s titles and two manufacturer’s championships prior to leaving F1 racing in 1984, has remained heavily involved in racing around the world. Currently, Michelin supplies tires for the American Le Mans Series and Skip Barber in North America as well as World Rallying, GT, Motorbike Grand Prix 500, Superbike and endurance racing.
“Our entry in F1 will help us reinforce our position in Europe and gain recognition and improve our presence in Asia and South America,” said Edouard Michelin, CEO of the Michelin Group. ®It will also increase our racing presence in North America. We are convinced that this is a good investment.®
The tire maker feels comfortable re-entering the extremely competitive circuit.
“We are well acquainted with the racing teams of Toyota and BMW/Williams,” said Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin’s director of racing. ®Even though we have not been competing in F1 in recent years, Michelin has kept a close eye on the sport and its evolution. I assure you that we will bring our reputation for technology and quality service and be competitive.®
Goodyear to drop Birmingham truck tire production
Continuing rationalization of its now combined Goodyear and Sumitomo operations around the world, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. announced that it was eliminating truck tire manufacturing at the former Dunlop Tyres UK plant in Birmingham, England.
Truck tire production at the facility will be shifted to “other joint venture plants in Europe,” while mold production will be moved to Goodyear’s mold facility in Luxembourg.
The nearly 85-year-old Birmingham plant, which will see its work force cut by 650 jobs, will continue to make passenger and racing tires.
According to Goodyear, the move will “result in substantial cost savings and synergies for the Goodyear and Dunlop joint venture.” Late last year, Goodyear announced plans to close tire plants in Italy and Argentina as part of its on-going globalization efforts.
TireDex.com membership growing rapidly
TireDex.com, the industry’s first business-to-business marketplace for tires and wheels, announced that it now has 400 members. The company first began soliciting members for its free Internet-based trading and transaction service at last year’s International Tire Expo in Las Vegas.
“We are very pleased with the rapid sign-on rate. It has far exceeded our expectations,” said Terence Scheckter, TireDex.com’s CEO. ®Membership is growing at a rate of 35 percent each month, with members in every major market around the world.®
The web-based TireDex.com allows members to post tires and wheels for sale. Most of the listings are for overstock items, according to Scheckter. TireDex.com members include manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and brokers.
Members can sell, buy or trade products using the service. There is no fee for joining (on-line at TireDex.com) or listing products for sale or trade, but there is a small transaction fee due TireDex.com at the conclusion of any transaction.
Tire Kingdom integrates DSS point-of-sale system
Tire Kingdom recently announced that it has integrated a point-of-sale system manufactured by Dynamic Systems Solutions (DSS) into its 165 stores in the Southeast
Tire Kingdom selected DSS in an effort to increase the efficiency and functionality of its electronic sales operations. The new system directly interfaces with the dealer’s present software, eliminating redundant files and the double processing of inventory and sales information.
The DSS system will allow Tire Kingdom to instantly track customer history for orders, reservations, estimates and appointments.
In addition, Tire Kingdom is equipped with the capability to track related parts for specific repairs and automatically list parts on sales orders, to store the names of technicians who performed work, and to transmit store data (inventory levels, payroll clocking, traffic count etc.) instantly to corporate headquarters.
ITRA offers 401(k) plan to members
The International Tire and Rubber Association (ITRA) recently negotiated a 401(k) plan from Travelers Life and Annuity. The formation of the plan came in response to what the ITRA saw as a growing need to recruit and retain qualified workers with a sound compensation program. The 401(k) plan will allow ITRA member companies a low-cost system to help their employees plan for the future.
Micali to speak at symposium
Jim Micali, chairman and president of Michelin North America, will be the Tire Association of North America’s (TANA) special guest speaker at the 2000 Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium.
The conference will be held April 25-26 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dearborn, Mich.
“Jim is one of the leaders in the tire industry,” said Tom Wright, TANA president. ®I’m very pleased to have him as a speaker at this exclusive industry event.®
Micali’s presentation is entitled “Customer Service After the Year 2000: Expectations and Challenges,” and will take place on Tuesday, April 25, at 2:30 p.m.
Firestone unveils sealing tire
The Firestone FT70C with UNI-T featuring Sealix incorporates a sealant material that can seal most tread punctures up to 3/16” in diameter. The tire will continue to offer dependable rain and snow traction as the original Firestone FT70C, which was introduced in 1997.
“The ability to handle wet weather and seal itself after suffering small punctures is an awesome combination of benefits in a single tire,” said Shu Ishibashi, Bridgestone/Firestone’s vice president of consumer tire marketing. ®With its various technologies, the Firestone FT70C with UNI-T featuring Sealix effectively addresses two of the most frequently raised concerns of motorists in our customer opinion surveys: flat tires and rainy day driving performance.®
When an object up to 3/16” in diameter punctures the tire, the Sealix sealant material creates an instant seal around the hole. When the object is removed, Sealix is drawn into the puncture, creating a seal and preventing loss of air pressure.
Test markets throughout the United States will begin to see the tire in March of 2000.
TANA offers risk management training
The Tire Association of North America (TANA), along with Universal Underwriters Insurance Company, announced that it is again offering free “risk management” videotape training programs.
The tapes are being offered on a first-come, first serve-basis by calling TANA at 800-876-8372.
This marks the second time these tapes were offered. The first edition was made available in July of 1999.