SIMI VALLEY, Calif.-Tire Pros, one of California's largest retail tire dealership organizations and a division of Simi Valley-based Aspen Enterprises Inc., became the 18th distributor member of the American Car Care Centers Inc. marketing group on April 17. With Tire Pros' 84 locations, all in California, ACCC's retail membership has jumped to 741 outlets, and its wholesale sales are estimated at about $1.1 billion. Additionally, Tire Pros becomes the only ACCC member in the competitive California market, the last state for the U.S. marketing group to enter.
That's all good for ACCC. But why, with more than 80 retail outlets, plans to open 20 more by year-end, four warehouses (which operate as Am-Pac Tire Distributors) and strong marketing and warranty programs, would a large distributor like Tire Pros want to join a national marketing group?
Even Aspen Enterprises President and CEO Dennis Mangola said it took him ``quite a while'' to understand the benefits becoming a 1/18th-owner of ACCC would have for Tire Pros and its dealers.
``I sat here for a long time thinking, `I don't need a nationwide service warranty,'*'' Mr. Mangola admitted. In fact, he said taking on the new programs has compelled the company to rework its warranty forms to coexist with ACCC programs like the ``Freedom Plan'' tire warranty.
But with the little extra work aside, there are ``tremendous'' benefits for Tire Pros dealers, who were introduced to the ACCC program in a meeting held during the last week of April, Mr. Mangola said.
First and foremost, he said, is the ability to offer an exclusive tire line, ACCC's American Radial private brand. Dealers also will be able to take advantage of a nationwide marketing campaign that should give them added exposure.
``They can also communicate with other dealers in other parts of the country that have the same goals they have (and) that sell the same products they sell,'' Mr. Mangola said.
Tire Pros told its 14 company-owned stores and 70 franchisees that it will soon be marketing itself as ``Tire Pros, Your American Car Care Center.''
Current Tire Pros programs will not change as a result of the membership. The distributor also will continue to carry its current tire lines, including Michelin, Dunlop and Bridgestone brands, he said.
Most important on a companywide level, Mr. Mangola said, is the idea that a national marketing group can command greater influence with tire manufacturers, which could, in turn, translate into increased control over distribution and profit margins.
``(ACCC), in the next three to five years, will be the company that really has a lot of pull with manufacturers,'' he said. ``That will bring recovery to the independent tire dealer and the manufacturer.''
With its size, ACCC will be able to take advantage of economies of scale in terms of product, service and advertising purchasing. And that, Mr. Mangola said, will help ACCC, its member distributors and their independent dealers prosper.