TBC Flying High
Company Renews Its Commitment to Dealers In A Variety of Ways
TBC Corp. wants customers "flying" into its dealers’ shops and is willing to do what it takes to make that happen.
This was the message presented to dealers at TBC’s annual dealer meeting, held Jan. 5-10 in Palm Desert, Calif. TBC sees consumers focusing on tire quality and believes the independent dealer is where they will turn. And TBC is prepared, with renewed commitment to private brands, reorganized management, beefed up tire lines, and enhanced training programs.
"It is (the dealer) who built TBC, who sustain us, and who contribute the biggest share of our annual unit and dollar sales," said TBC President and CEO Larry Day, addressing attendees. "I hope when you leave here it will be with a renewed sense of our commitment to the private brands segment."
One of the centerpieces of the meeting came when Day spoke to the general session about the purported post-Firestone recall "flight to quality" a feeling that consumers want nationally known tire brands because of their perceived better quality and safety.
Day feels the issue isn’t product based, but rather consumer service oriented.
"As private branders who compete everyday and effectively so ®“ with flag brand tires, our first inclination was to look at this idea and see it as purely self-serving, a flawed argument designed to make the trouble of one major brand appear to constitute an endorsement of other major brands," Day said. "If it could be hinted that flag brand tires are safer than ours, the marketplace might skew toward the majors."
Day said there has been a "flight to quality," but to quality tire dealers, not major brands.
"The flight to quality is a flight to the showroom and service bay of the independent tire dealer, who through his attention to every customer and his ability to provide a high level of personalized service, has remained the true quality option in the tire business.
"The major manufacturers, in their desire to be all things to all people, it may be argued, have represented a ‘flight from quality,’" creating a major opportunity for dealers "who can provide a quality purchase experience," he said. "Much as the manufacturer might wish it, the tire business is not like consumer electronics or other ‘big box’ businesses."
One thing that will help dealers out is the newly created TBC Private Brand Division. Through this division, the company says it wants to be a more cost-effective and efficient supplier; continue high levels of service; provide innovative, cutting-edge products; and provide exclusivity through brand separation.
"With TBC Corp. redefining and diversifying itself to compete at all levels of the replacement tire business," said Ken Dick president of the division, "it was becoming clear we needed a management structure that would sharply define the objectives of the core, or private brand, part of our business and then focus more clearly than ever on meeting that objective."
TBC also said it would form a complete Vanderbilt line, complementing the Cordovan, Multi-Mile, and Sigma brands. "We were approaching maximum market penetration in certain areas and that’s why adding a fourth brand came to pass," Day said. "Vanderbilt has a lot of upside in terms of unit penetration. By late-2002/early-2003, the line should be complete."
The Multi-Mile GA Radial G/T and the Cordovan GP Performance G/T cosmetic performance tires were just two of the tires introduced. TBC says these tires will provide excellent handling, a quiet ride, enhanced responsiveness and water evacuation to go along with a distinctive appearance.
And dealers were introduced to TBC’s new Modular Dealer Sales Training Program, which includes five sections on selling, management and customer service skills.
"At TBC, we understand the reality of the consumer flight to quality," said Day, "and will continue doing everything we can to support the independent dealer whose business is the proper destination for that flight."