DALLAS-Efforts to revitalize the former O.K. Tire Dealers group in the U.S. will go forward despite a relatively light turnout for an exploratory meeting on the subject, Sept. 8., in Dallas. The Dallas gathering, held prior to the opening of the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association convention in that city, attracted fewer than 30 dealers, observers said.
Among those on hand at the meeting were representatives of the Canadian O.K. Tire Stores Inc. group, which has encouraged the reorganization effort in the U.S.
Despite the modest turnout, marketing consultant John Wagner, who organized the meeting, said he has been contacted by about 117 interested dealers-including 68 presently using the O.K. name.
His current mailing list includes the names of 420 U.S. dealerships that are existing or potential O.K. Tire dealers.
Many are the remnants of the original O.K. Rubber Welders franchise group, which at one time had more than 1,000 members in North America. That organization disbanded in the late 1970s-except in Canada where its former members elected to remain as a group and incorporated to form the present O.K. Tire group there.
If everything goes as planned, he said, the new group will be known as O.K. Tire Dealers/U.S. and incorporated as a dealer-owned buying and marketing co-op similar to Canada's 130- member O.K. Tire organization.
Mr. Wagner said said he hopes to recruit at least 150 stores to be a part of the U.S. group by mid-1995.
The two groups hope to combine their purchasing power to market O.K.-brand passenger and light truck tires and gain volume discounts on other brands of tires and service equipment. Cross- border tire warranties also are being considered.
Don Blythe, president of the Canadian group, said his organization will wait to see what progress Mr. Wagner makes before committing any further financial support to the reorganization effort in the U.S.
At least initially, O.K. Tire Dealers/U.S. will make its headquarters in the Louisville, Ky., area, where Mr. Wagner's company, Tire Marketing Service, has its offices. Mr. Wagner said he plans to serve as the group's president.
During the coming weeks, Mr. Wagner said he hopes to secure a manufacturer for the proposed O.K. brand; prepare a business plan and marketing strategy for the dealer group; then begin recruiting members and raising working capital.
Interested dealers will be asked to pledge $5,000 in return for one share of the company's stock. Like the Canadian group, no member will own more than one share of stock, thereby guaranteeing each member an equal voice regardless of dealership size.
Additional capital will be raised by loans obtained from participating dealers, outside investors or-as a last resort-from potential suppliers, Mr. Wagner said.
Profits from the corporation are to be parcelled out to members based on their volume of purchases during the year, he added.
Like its Canadian counterpart, the proposed O.K. Tire group in the U.S. is likely to be made up primarily of small, single-outlet dealerships, Mr. Wagner said.