AKRON-Many independent tire dealers turned to marketing and buying groups last year to help protect their interests in a market filled with tough price competition and glitzy marketing campaigns from company-owned outlets, mass merchandisers and warehouse clubs. The organizers of three such groups, American Car Care Centers Inc., Metro 25 Tire and Jetzon Tire & Rubber Co., each had a notable year modifying their programs to accommodate an increasing number of dealers.
Nearly 200 dealers joined ACCC during 1994, strengthening its lead as North America's largest marketing group. At year-end, 18 distributors and 832 outlets in all 50 states participate in ACCC, which celebrated its fifth anniversary during the year.
In 1994, the group:
Shifted production of its American Radial tire lines to Michelin Americas Small Tires (MAST) from Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.'s Dayton Tire unit.
Signed Simi Valley, Calif.-based Tire Pros, a division of Aspen Enterprises Inc., as its 18th member/distributor.
Distributed the group's first television commercials, available to ACCC dealers with local video and audio tags; and
Implemented its first employee training certification program.
Near the end of the year, Len Lewin, former MAST vice president of sales, joined the group as president and CEO.
Detroit-based Metro 25 reorganized its marketing program into a cooperative venture, giving members the opportunity to take ownership in the organization.
Under the cooperative, dealers and distributors have the option of becoming owners with full voting rights by making an initial stock purchase of $5,000 and paying $200 per month for each location to defray the costs of point-of-sale materials, meetings and advertising and training programs.
By year end, about 80 percent of the program's participants had become shareholders, a spokeswoman said. Metro 25 has seven participating distributors and 300 outlets.
In March, Metro 25 announced the establishment of a joint venture with Axxium International Corp. of Italy, giving the group exclusive distribution rights to the Axxium line in the U.S.
Axxium International, in turn, will help launch Metro 25 in Europe with the goal of setting up the program in France by the end of 1995. Other European countries would then follow.
Jetzon Tire also changed its marketing program in 1994. The Montgomeryville, Pa.-based company replaced its Jetzon One marketing effort with an ``authorized dealer'' program.
The new program, which covers about 825 dealers of Jetzon tires, offers many of the same marketing benefits as the Jetzon One program but on a nationwide basis and without requiring participants to pay fees, said Fred Hoffman, vice president of marketing.
Jetzon dealers are asked to register and provide information on their store locations and are logged into a computer system the company will use for its new national dealer referral program.
Authorized dealers then receive a start-up kit and have access to advertising and point-of-purchase materials from Jetzon, as well as copies of the company's consumer guide to understanding tires.
Jetzon hopes the dealer network eventually will develop into a free national marketing program.