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K&M Tire Celebrates 50 Years at Annual Conference

Distributor K&M Tire hosted its 2020 Dealer Conference in Columbus, Ohio, recognizing its 2020 Mr. Tire/Big 3 Tire Top Shop Winners and supporting its dealers with business tips and new marketing opportunities.

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To kick off the festivities, K&M recognized Van Kleeck’s Tire, a single location tire shop in Lake Katrine, New York, and its owners Clayton and Karen Van Kleeck, for the shop’s community involvement and customer-oriented culture.

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From left, K&M President Cheryl Gossard and K&M Founder/CEO Ken Langhals answered questions on the company’s 50 years in business from the event’s MC, K&M Director of Training Jeff Wallick in a segment titled “K&M Unscripted.”

General Session

Day 2 of the dealer conference kicked off with K&M Tire’s Founder and CEO, Ken Langhals, and K&M Tire President Cheryl Gossard, up on stage for a “straight-from-the-heart,” unscripted discussion with Jeff Wallick, K&M’s director of training.

In his introduction to the packed ballroom of attendees, Wallick said, “we realize that our success is linked directly to your success, so that’s one of the reasons we put on these conferences each and every year. We know that we need market-leading customers to buy tires from us today, but even more crucially, we need marketing-leading customers to buy tires from us in the future. That’s why we spend so much time and invest so many resources in bringing you new brands and new products and making new programs to grow your business, and most importantly, to grow your business in your own way. You are all entrepreneurs, and you are the backbone of this business, and we appreciate you so much.”

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Langhals and Gossard emphasized the company’s core values of making a positive impact in their communities and taking care of their valued customers, who they feel are a part of their extended family.

When asked what is one thing that his customers don’t know about him, Langhals expressed, “Well, they probably don’t know that when I began in 1970, I told a couple people that I planned to retire when I was 50 years old. I planned to make $10,000 a year for 25 years and retire when I was 50 with $250,000. Well, I’m still here. I’m still here because I love what I do, I love our customers and I love our employees.”

Gossard talked about her motivation of never being satisfied in the pursuit of continuous process improvement, “focusing on doing a great job every single day, and that any decisions must be good for us and our customers.”

Langhals stressed a desire to always “do what’s fair and do it with respect for our customers.”

Both spoke on the parallels of K&M being a family-run business similar to most of its customers, the importance of trust being a two-way street between vendors and customers and how taking ownership in your job can allow team members to have an optimal impact on helping grow the company.

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K&M Tire Director of Marketing Dave Miller presented new promotions and rebate options to K&M dealers.

Leveling the Playing Field with Mr. Tire

Dave Miller, K&M director of marketing, told dealers about new features of the Mr. Tire program and how customers can use the program to level the playing field this year and beyond. Miller discussed that the Mr. Tire rebates, which are integrated into its weblink portal, are now faster and more user-friendly for the end-user. Chief among the rebate program’s new features is an instant rebate platform to help dealers “close the sale on the spot.” He also discussed K&M’s investment in geo-fencing and geo-targeting using production-quality videos to attract the attention of social media users in their dealers’ backyard. This will increase car counts to their dealership to level the playing field, Miller added. A representative from West Creek Financial also spoke about the importance of offering customers no-credit financing options, since 61% of Americans cannot afford a $1,000 repair emergency.

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K&M Director of Training Jeff Wallick
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Craig Wallick, tire industry veteran and longtime sales manager for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., spoke with his son, Jeff Wallick, on changes in the tire business and making committments.

50 Years in the Tire Business

Wallick and his father, Craig, took the stage together to share ideas on how to create a more profitable future for your business. Craig discussed “managing” your business versus just running it, making sure you have the correct tire inventory at the right time and effectively managing your people.

Jeff talked about three “key focuses” as it relates to your customer base:

  1. Customers value their time; trust is a premium for them; and they want to have a very convenient purchasing process (for example, offer online scheduling and loaner cars).
  2. Claim your Google business page or you will continue to lose out on business opportunities.
  3. Take the friction out of doing business with your store. One way is to take a look at your business through the eyes of your customers, with a focus on making the waiting room comfortable and inviting and offering financing options.
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Lori Hamilton (left) and Rene Metzner, members of K&M’s human resources team, gave dealers tips on hiring and retaining talent in 2020 and beyond.

Human Resource Workshop

Rene Metzner, associate director of communications for K&M, and Lori Hamilton, director of human resources, provided hiring tips, noting the importance of telling prospective employees what makes your company unique. They also discussed tips to interview like a pro (including which questions to ask to see if an employee will be a good fit, as well as questions to avoid to prevent any legal pitfalls), and how to keep new hires by highlighting some “onboarding” best practices and stressing the importance of ongoing training.

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Dave Crawford, president of The Hybrid Shop, spoke about ways dealers can add profitability to their bays by expanding service opportunities on hybrid/electric vehicles.

Hybrid & Electric Vehicles — Driving Us Back to the Future

In this session, Dave Crawford, president of The Hybrid Shop, discussed emerging hybrid and electric vehicle technology, stressing the importance of looking at this growing car parc as a profit center for your dealership.

“Fully servicing hybrid vehicles creates a brand-new revenue stream for your shop, which can help replace lost tire revenues going to car dealerships, large consolidating retailers and online sales. Every dollar you generate from being able to service the full hybrid-drive system is purely incremental. It simply did not exist before,” he advised.

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If dealers position their shop now, they will be able to reinvent their business and set it apart from their competition, as vehicle technologies change, Crawford said. “If your shop is in the service business, can you afford to ignore what is projected to be at least 18% of the vehicles that pass by your store every day?” he challenged the audience.

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Phil Avery gave dealers two formulas for maximizing performance to build a winning team.

Winning Isn’t Everything, It’s the Only Thing

Phil Avery, director of learning and development for Best-One Tire & Service, shared proven formulas for building a winning team. He said that in committing to the pursuit of perfection for your business, one must: put a vision in place for their team; outline the culture; lead by example; motivate employees; make sure they have the right tools to excel at their job; provide positive feedback, even when having to make a point or point out a shortcoming; and, give employees the opportunity to be a part of the solution. In addition, give them a chance to be heard. “A listening ear is the greatest gift you can give your employees and your customers,” Avery stressed. One final point to drive home the importance of making employees feel “like they are a part of something bigger”—engaged employees are 19% more productive at their job.

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Tire Review Editor Mary DellaValle awarded Clayton and Karen Van Kleeck the Mr. Tire/Big 3 Tire Top Shop Award at K&M’s 2020 Dealer Conference held in Columbus, Ohio Jan. 23-24.
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Tire Review Editor Mary DellaValle gave Clayton Van Kleeck the Mr. Tire/Big 3 Tire Top Shop Award.
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Tire Review Editor Mary DellaValle presented Van Kleek’s Tire with its K&M Top Shop award and $2,000 cash prize.
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Clayton Van Kleeck, owner of Van Kleeck’s Tire, thanks K&M Tire for the Top Shop recognition.
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K&M Tire’s Loudan Hammersmith (left) and Jon Zurcher, COO of Best-One Tire, taught dealers how to build profit and add value in today’s farm tire sector in a presentation titled “Optimizing your Ag Business.”
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The tradeshow floor contained dozens of companies, giveaways and more for dealers to explore.
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Justin Bengtson, of Bengtson Tire & Service in Salina, KS, won $5,300 in the
Continental Tire Cash Grab booth at the 2020 K&M Tire Dealer Conference.
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Brian Trout (third from right) of Trout Tire Center in Porter, Texas won a 1970 Corvette in the CooperTire/Mastercraft giveaway.
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James Record (center) of Discount Tire & Battery in Crystal, Michigan, won a 2020 Ford Ranger in Hankook Tire’s giveaway.
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Bobby Little of Rice Farmers Co-op (second from left) in El Campo, Texas, won a side-by-side and trailer in the Bridgestone/Firestone giveaway.

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