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Editor's Notebook

Separate Generations, Two CEOs Have Same Message for Dealers

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"My one son can hardly write his name because he’s never used a pencil."

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Bill Berry wasn’t mocking his own grown progeny. The head of American Tire Distributors was making the point that today’s tire buyers are much, much different than they were just a few short years ago.

They come from a different time and place; the world they know has always been online and completely connected. Their world has always had computers and cell phones, friends and family have always been a text away, and the technology that befuddles the older generation is their everyday life.

They may not know how to push a pencil, but they can, as Berry said, “wear the heck out of a keyboard.”

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“Do you remember life before Goo­g­le?” Berry asked dealers at the recent Tire Pros National Business Confer­ence. The audience’s slight giggle at the question confirmed that Berry’s point was not lost.

Google and all search engines and all social media and all the technology that drives all of that has changed the way people seek out information, how they act on that information, and how marketers have had to change in order to reach out to these buyers.

For the first time in history, technology – that Great Enabler – changed the entire process of commerce.
The old rules are dead.

No one knows that better than Myles Kovacs, founder and president of DUB Publishing, an empire that includes the well-known magazine, as well as television and online media, auto and extreme sports events, co- and cross-marketing, wheel design and marketing – even toy development and sales.

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Kovacs doesn’t have all of the wallpaper of most successful major CEOs. His suit closet is full of printed t-shirts and cargo shorts. And he hangs out with entertainers and a few star athletes – people named Beckham, Puffy, Snoop, Shaq and Jordan.

DUB took dramatic vehicle make­overs, added in well-known celebrity “influencers,” and leveraged marketing partnerships with Pirelli, Monster, Sony and Mobil, Kawasaki and the UFC to thoroughly engage a multi-cultural youth market.

When the deepest of recessions took the starch out of the custom wheel market, DUB shifted gears. Instead of focusing on the uber-bling, Kovacs took readers and loyalists – smarting from de-escalating income and escalating gas prices – down a few notches, putting a premium spin on a lower price point. They kept buying, and DUB continued growing.

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That’s the power of brand. And that’s the buying power of the Google generation.

Through its media, events and online activities, DUB touches millions of consumers daily. It tracks trends to see where consumers want to go, not where they can be pushed, and it stays ahead of those moves. Armed with that information and experience, Kovacs sees ways his company, his brand and his energy can help independent tire dealers tap into multi-cultural markets.

Berry believes we’ll see more change in the next five years than in the last 15. He recognizes that his sons and the millions in their generation have a “whole different way of processing information.”

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“We have got to get on their page. We have to be in tune with these consumers. And we have to bring more people from this generation into our business. We need to look at who is our customer and if we don’t have people of that age to talk to these customers, it will be a challenge.”

There is a convergence of ages and cultures, and of buying power and method. In both of their eyes, it’s all about bringing a different – a new – customer to the dealer’s door.

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* * * * * * *
While we received plenty of positive comments from our February feature on tire repairs, rather than dislocate our elbows, we do need to clarify a couple of things.

First, I want to thank those eagle-eyed readers who saw steel cords showing through the buffed area of the tire being repaired, despite the fact our instruction clearly stated not to buff through the innerliner. There were two photos on page 39, in fact, where this error occurred.

Entirely our bad. And I do want you to know that we have fixed those photos on the complimentary wall posters based on that illustrated feature story you can download from our website (click here).

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Secondly, as stated in the article, the information presented was a compilation of accepted industry procedures and standards from both the RMA and TIA. At the same time, while we relied heavily on particular process of – and artwork provided by – Myers Indust­ries/­Patch Rubber, we should have done a better job acknowledging that other repair processes – while fundamentally the same – do things in a slightly different order. Plus, the repair steps we outlined in the magazine and posters have a few steps that are not part of the RMA/TIA procedures.

We weren’t trying to confuse anyone, and we apologize if that was the case.

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