ROSSVILLE, Ga.-Grand Teton: Highest elevation of northwest Wyoming's Teton mountain range. Teton: DiPrima Marketing Services Inc.'s relatively new private brand tire line.
One is snow-capped and chilly. The other is selling hot, hot, hot.
Like its lofty namesake, DiPrima has a lofty goal for its own Teton-to lock up at least a corner of the specialty tire market.
The company, headquartered in Rossville, hopes to do that by capitalizing on the hallmark of private label tires: offering independent dealers exclusive territories along with very competitive prices.
Since its debut about a year-and-a-half ago, the Teton brand has sparked some ``very exciting'' sales-beyond the company's initial expectations, said DiPrima sales executive Larry Williams. Though current sales figures are unavailable, Teton is riding the company's heightened emphasis on the niche market, where DiPrima has always been a player.
``That market is growing,'' he said, ``and anyone who's in it this year did substantially well-probably sold out everything they had.''
Mr. Williams isn't quite sure why it's been such a banner year for the specialty tire market, other than that the U.S. economy has been on an apparent upswing.
But he acknowledged that DiPrima's specialty sales ``went way up. We sold twice what we projected.'' He paused for a moment to think, then added: ``As a matter of fact, we (practically) sold twice what we could get our hands on in all that little specialty stuff.''
More than 90 percent of the products DiPrima markets are tires. According to Mr. Williams, the 16-year-old firm's lawn mower-tire sales, for example, have been increasing every year, and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) tire sales also are ``doing very well.''
In June the company began offering a Teton bias-ply medium truck tire line. It hopes to introduce a steel radial version at the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association's convention and trade show Sept. 8-11 in Dallas, where DiPrima will be exhibiting for the first time.
The Teton label initially began with some industrial and skid steer tires, and has slowly grown. Now, it includes a complete ATV line of lawn mower, turf, farm/implement, garden, high-speed trailer, boat trailer and wheelbarrow tires, as well as selected mini-van and mini-passenger tires, inner tubes and agricultural tires. The brand also is available in ``ditch witch'' industrial rib and traction implement tires.
Why launch a new private label?
``Under the name `DiPrima Tire,' we were selling a lot of different products'' through export as well as domestically, Mr. Williams explained. ``We had so many customers and suppliers interested in a private brand line that we decided to just start our own label.''
The company, located ``next door'' to Chattanooga, Tenn., operates a distribution center in Rossville, selling its products throughout the U.S. and Canada, and exporting to Europe.
Because of the ``terrific reception'' the Teton brand has received, Mr. Williams said DiPrima is looking not only for customers, but for suppliers as well.
``There are so many people out there trying to fight the warehouse clubs etc.,'' he explained. ``And, of course, the Big Three tire makers want to take (their products) from the cradle to the grave. They've got their own brands and aren't much interested in the individual (dealer) anymore.
``We're a wholesaler, so we can offer (individualized) service and a big stock. It's working out well so far.''
Independent dealers who handle private brands want a product backed by a company that offers exclusive territories-just what DiPrima provides, Mr. Williams continued. ``We've had a good name in the industry for a long time and every company we deal with has a first-class product.''
DiPrima markets various products made by Dico Tire Inc., Specialty Tires of America Inc. and King's Tire, a Taiwanese firm-all three of which make the Teton brand-and Taurus Rubber Co. and Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd.
The company's Teton program offers ``very competitive prices,'' he noted. Although not a bona fide co-operative, ``when a dealer signs an agreement with us, we share a lot of the costs with them and try to develop the product in their marketing territory.''
Thus far, some 30 dealers have signed on to handle DiPrima's products. Mr. Williams said by year's end the company will set an enrollment goal.
By October the company is planning to change its name to DiPrima Tire Inc., to better reflect its business, which for years emphasized importing and exporting.
It got heavily involved in wholesale distribution about three years ago, and, with the establishment of its distribution center, has had ``tremendous growth since then,'' Mr. Williams said.
Before that, ``We did a lot of public warehousing, where we just sold but never saw the product'' because much of DiPrima's sales were via factory-direct shipments.
Joseph DiPrima is the company's president.