Random Notes - Tire Review Magazine

Random Notes

Get Out of Here! Really?

Word on the street is that Wal-mart is having serious thoughts about being in the tire business. Low margins and its inability to be competitive against knowledgeable competition is leaving a mark, apparently. Seven Wal-mart stores have been targeted for a trial run sans tire and auto service centers, with the space being converted over to other non-automotive products. Perhaps this will be the start of something special.

Glad They Don’t Work for Us
Ford says it’s serious about quality. Really serious. As Ford ramps up production of small cars – a full two years after Americans starting moving away from big gas hogs – it wants the quality of its small cars to be second to none. The automaker is assigning hourly workers to catch quality problems on the factory line before they get to the showroom. The effort is pointed at reducing Ford’s “things gone wrong” index to 800 per 1,000 vehicles. The industry average? 1,512 per 1,000. Imagine if the tire industry settled for that kind of batting average.

On the Mend
Heard from old friend Alpio Barbara, owner of 2007 Top Shop Award finalist Redwood General Tire out in Redwood, Calif. He’s at home recuperating from some surgery, but is still busy keeping tabs on things in the shop. And sending me notes. Get well soon, Alpio.

Patent Medicine and You
Consumers are mad after any remedy for high gas prices, and the InterWebs are chock full of oddball promises of more miles per gallon, including some outfit selling tablets to place in the gas tank and carb and another with something that creates a powerful air vortex in the fuel injection system. Life Science 9 in California (no wonder) says it has created biofuel from bug excretion – what we call poop. It plans to build a facility that will deliver biofuel at $1.25 per gallon! Back in the mid-1970s I worked for a guy who hooked up with another knucklehead on a gas mileage scheme…this was back when gas passed the disastrous $1 per gallon mark! Their solution: pumping a mist of water into the carb. Didn’t say he was bright, just the owner of the business.

Victim of Technology
The folks that publish the Yellow Pages (and all of the variations thereof) were miffed at news reports that ad sales in such directories were falling rapidly as consumer use moved from the bulky books to the Internet. Seems impatient Americans have found the InterWebs easier to use than their directories. While the various publishers dispute the survey findings, the medium may be on its way out. AOL’s Walletpop blog recently published a list of the Top 25 Things Vanishing from America – things like classified ads, pit toilets and personal checks. The Yellow Pages came in at No. 24.

If you have comments to share, send to me at [email protected].

– Jim Smith

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