Over the past two years, change was constant for Nexen Tire America. Not only was the company grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain strains, but it also moved its headquarters from Southern California to Northeast Ohio and hired new team members as a result of its growth. Yet despite changes to its business and the tire industry, Nexen executives say the company is supercharged for growth in the U.S. and Canada.
“I think that we will show you a new era of Nexen Tire,” said Brian Han, president and CEO of Nexen Tire America. “You’ll see some improved service, and we believe we can make great success together in this market.”
A New Culture and Better Supply
During a five-day excursion exploring the Canadian Rockies in Banff, Canada, Nexen Tire took its dealers and distributors on its “2022 Nexen Tire Adventure,” featuring activities that highlighted the beauty of the region. Those included exploring the famous Lake Louise, trekking through the Columbia Icefields, a bike and hike excursion through Johnston Canyon and indulging in Canadian cuisine and drink. Dealers and their spouses were treated to a stay at the Fairmont Banff Springs, a luxury castle hotel constructed in the late 1800s.
Kicking off the trip, Nexen Tire executives reviewed how the company has changed over the last two years, what dealers can expect in the future and celebrated being together after a two-year hiatus. Han told dealers that while moving Nexen’s HQ to join its R&D center in northeast Ohio wasn’t an easy decision, it has paid off with synergies between R&D, sales and the company’s growing OE business. John Hagan, executive vice president of sales, added that with the move came growth for Nexen, as the company hired more than 30 new team members in six months and established call centers on the East and West coasts.
The company also implemented a new CRM system and sales tools, both of which will help Nexen respond quicker to the market and dealer demands within 24 hours.
“These are some of the things that we have done to drive our business to be more supportive of our customers as fast as we can and to get results for both of us,” he added.
Another way Nexen has bolstered support to its customers is by boosting production of tires for the US market. Hagan said with the opening of Nexen’s plant in the Czech Republic in 2019, production for the European market and European OE fitments shifted to the new plant, freeing up capacity at its Koren plants to produce tires for the U.S. and Canada. It has also focused on being closer to the markets it serves and finding synergies globally between its R&D centers in Korea, Germany, China and the US.
“We need to be adaptive and creative…when it comes to future growth as a company,” Hagan said. “At the end of the day, we have to be fast to get to the customer. We have to have just-in-time network systems, delivery and automated systems in place so we can move those cost savings to you, our customers, in order to make the profits that you want to make.”
Hagan said with the right support systems in place Nexen’s value proposition for dealers speaks for itself. With more than half a billion tires produced for the US since it came to the market in 2005, the company has never issued a recall for any of its products. It also has an “industry-leading” warranty, Hagan said, that covers replacement due to road hazards for up to two years, a free trial, roadside assistance and other perks.
Another arm of Nexen’s growth strategy in North America includes gaining OE fitments, Hagan said. Globally, Nexen has more than 200 OE fitments and has gained notable fitments in the last few years on the new Kia Hybrid EV, Volkswagen Jetta, Jeep Wagoneer as well 2021 models of the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sedona, Kia Sorento HEV and Mitsubishi Outlander. Hagan said not only will this help the brand, but will also contribute to growth in the replacement market in the future.
Nexen’s OE fitments are evidence that it is also focused on producing tires for new electric vehicle models, with more OE fitments on EVs down the line for the tiremaker. This has helped inform its strategy for supplying replacement tires for EVs. Hagan said Nexen’s goal for the replacement side is to avoid complexity caused by SKU proliferation. He said the company continues to explore different ways to enhance tires for EVs in order to meet vehicle specs.
“[Electric vehicles] are very dynamic,” he said. “It takes a lot to get the weight of the tire and the rubber compound in line…[so that] the vehicle performs like it’s supposed to.”
Building the Brand
Another pillar of Nexen’s growth in North America is brand awareness. Jason Yard, marketing director, said while the Nexen brand is well known to dealers, there is room for improvement in consumer awareness.
A few ways Nexen is boosting consumer awareness include marketing activations at the Overland Expo, an event for adventure enthusiasts, with a Ride and Drive experience, and engaging in sports marketing such as sponsoring the Nexen Manchester City youth soccer tournament. The brand has also refreshed its presence on LinkedIn and YouTube and launched a TikTok account.
“That’s what we’re trying to go after is that consumer awareness,” Yard said. “That’s something we’re going to double down our efforts on in the future–not just in 2023 but for the next five years.”
Yard said Nexen will also continue to improve dealer tools such as the Nexen Garage, its resource site for dealers, as well as the Nexen Network, a TV service for dealer waiting rooms with custom content available. In addition, Nexen promises fast payouts and new spiffs through its Next Level dealer program and new video training through its educational training portal.
Investing in Future Mobility & Customers
Some of the ways Nexen is exploring new mobility concepts is through investments in technology. Hagan said Nexen’s investments are numerous, which include: experimenting with using AI and big data to control noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) in tires; working on mass producing sealant tires; launching a venture capital fund to accelerate its expansion in the future mobility space; and working toward ESG goals and lower rolling resistance targets.
“We are a growing brand, a very solid brand and a dedicated brand,” Hagan said. “This means we have an eye on how we can support every single one of our customers. It is a daily commitment that we have in order to grow your business and grow your confidence [in our brand] every day. We want to be the best company to do business with day in and day out.”