SAN DIEGO-So how does Continental General Tire's overall message of consistency, and promises that it will listen more intently to its dealers, sit with them? One dealer told TIRE BUSINESS the ``old'' General Tire never was consistent and never put time into developing a program, changing any not greeted with immediate success.
``The new executives seem to realize you have to put time into a program,'' he said.
Burnham Neal, president of Neal Tire & Auto Service Inc., Toledo, Ill., and Austin Dunn, vice president of Neal Tire and its wholesale operation, Ben Tire, agreed that CGT appears to be ``trying to get down to the dealer level and listen one-on-one.''
``I'm impressed with their focus in working with existing dealers,'' Mr. Dunn said. ``They've realized there's been a breakdown in communication and they're trying to fix that ....I think it's a positive turn and will be beneficial.''
Confusion in upper management after General Tire's purchase by Continental A.G. clouded CGT's vision, Mr. Neal said, but ``the dust has settled now.''
Still identified as a General dealer, Neal Tire is a major retailer in Central Illinois and Indiana, but hasn't sold many Generals in the recent past. However, Mr. Neal said he hopes that situation will change, in light of what he heard at the conference.
Jim Sutton, president of Sutton's Service, a retail/commercial dealership in Greenville, N.C., said he was impressed with CGT's presentation and is ``glad to finally see the changes-I like action, rather than conversation.''
He's been a ``committed'' General dealer almost 59 years.
Frank Froehlich, president of the six-outlet retail/commercial Fremont Tire Inc., Sioux City, Iowa, admitted he ``sat back the last few years, waiting to see where (CGT) ends up in the marketplace as a player.'' He does some half-million dollars annually with the company.
While dealers have been apprehensive about working with the tire maker in recent years, he said he thinks ``General's fired up now, and means business.
``General's focused now, and dealers should be focused with them and join them in their success. Their passenger/light truck products are excellent and take a back seat to no one.''