AKRON-Only 131 of Goodyear's 4,500 franchised or independently owned dealer locations in the U.S. are owned by minorities. But a recently created company program seeks to bring those numbers more in line with the percentage of minorities in the general population while increasing the tire maker's distribution channels, said Hazell Stoudmire II, Goodyear Minority Dealer Business Development (GMDBD) manager.
Goodyear launched the GMDBD program in late December, hoping to cultivate tire dealerships owned by minorities with a minimum of bureaucratic red tape, Mr. Stoudmire said, noting his objections to a similar program the company had offered through the U.S. Small Business Administration. That program has been dissolved.
``The new format provides far more flexibility than our previous approach, where we had to take many more administrative steps to accomplish our goals and serve our customers,'' Mr. Stoudmire said.
Goodyear is providing all of the funding for the GMDBD. The GMDBD accepts applications from minority candidates either currently operating or attempting to start a tire dealership. Eligible candidates can receive up to $75,000 in financial assistance from the $1 million program in addition to a number of support services, Mr. Stoudmire said. The program will be replenished with an additional $500,000 if the original money is used by 1996.
``A lot of minority dealers come into this under-capitalized,'' he said, explaining one of the reasons minority business owners have historically had difficulties remaining in operation.
Dealers who are chosen for GMDBD support become fully franchised or independently owned Goodyear operations, he explained.
``Seriously considered'' applicants will be minorities who have strong retail and business backgrounds-not necessarily in tire-related fields- and leadership skills, Mr. Stoudmire said. Applicants should also be ``self starters'' who don't need Goodyear ``to monitor every move they make.'' Candidates must own at least 51 percent of the dealership.
The GMDBD has yet to provide support for a minority owner, a Goodyear spokeswoman said, adding the program should be in full swing later this year.