In an industry dominated by giants, it's good to see some of the smaller U.S. tire makers doing well by finding niches. Their ability to succeed in the intensely competitive North American tire market is an example small independent tire dealerships would do well to emulate.
Denman Tire Corp., the Leavittsburg, Ohio, maker of specialty tires, which is celebrating its 75th year in business, is a case in point. Officials at Denman say they are having fun running what two years ago was a business in a ``death spiral,'' as company President Charles R. Wright put it.
Today, thanks to hard work and smart moves by management, Denman is not only making money but planning to expand should business grow as expected within the next few years.
A similar story appears to be happening at Polymer Enterprises Inc. of Greensburg, Pa. It plans to build a second plant for its Specialty Tires of America Inc. subsidiary.
President Donald Mateer said Specialty Tires, which is profitable, debt free and expects revenues in excess of $65 million in 1994, needs the new plant to meet growing customer demand.
There's a lesson here for small independent tire dealerships being squeezed by major retail chains and large tire discounters that use their sheer size to gain economy of scale in tire buying and advertising.
Most industry observers believe small independents simply can't compete against the giants and thus face a bleak future.
The same thing might be said about Denman and Specialty Tires, each but a fraction of the size of manufacturers like Goodyear, Michelin or Bridgestone. Yet they are succeeding.
Like them, small independent tire dealers need to find their niche, keep their costs in line, provide quality products at competitive prices and offer exemplary service.
By so doing, they can overcome the odds and thrive among the big boys of tire retailing.