SAN DIEGO-Tire dealers attending Goodyear's annual dealer meeting generally reacted favorably to the company's new sales and marketing programs for helping them better compete in the marketplace. Those programs, announced at the meeting in San Diego Jan. 23-24, will give tire dealers:
tire lines not sold by mass merchandisers and discounters;
simplified and flexible marketing programs, including an incentive plan for the sale of Goodyear products; and,
a new expansion support program to help dealers add outlets or buy competing locations.
``If I was a dealer looking for a supplier with a full program, Goodyear's got to be a high priority of who I'd be interested in,'' said Jim Faught of Northwest Tire & Service in Flint, Mich., and current president of the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association.
Dealers, he said, had lost confidence in Goodyear following the signing of Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Discount Tire Co., but the meeting and programs are ``a major step in getting it back.
``I'm real excited about their new policies and products and it's reflected in their attitude.''
Another dealer, Ed Ward of Kirkwood Tires, Newark, Del., said his reaction to the programs as outlined at the meeting was positive ``as long as everything is implemented.'' He added he hates to see Goodyear tires going to mass merchandisers, although he understands the company is in business to make money.
Marc Wall of Kendrick Tire in Waco, Texas, was another dealer enthusiastic about the conference and with Goodyear.
He called the newly introduced Wrangler Aquatred light truck tire a ``very innovative approach.''
Goodyear has come a long way in five years, he said, after falling into financial hardship following the takeover attempt of British investor James Goldsmith in 1986.
``Goodyear has strength in the marketplace and stability as a company,'' he said.
Commenting on Goodyear's decision to broaden its distribution, Nick Mitsos of Mountain View Tire in Pomona, Calif., said it's important for Goodyear to be in a healthy state. ``In order for us to survive, Goodyear needs to survive,'' he said.
This change in distribution approach was a slow process, Mr. Mitsos said. It took Goodyear a little time to orchestrate both ends-that it needs a higher distribution, but also that the dealers are important to them.
``There was a little lag time, but I can tell you (Goodyear) has accelerated this big time this past year.''
But some dealers are taking a more wait-and-see approach.
Based on past experience, Pat O'Neill of Rainbo Tire Service in Dubuque, Iowa, said he wants to examine Goodyear's new programs before commenting on them.
Mr. O'Neill said he's concerned with industry trends regarding dealers and is especially worried about how long the single-location independent ``can hang in there.''
But the new products are good, he said. ``Goodyear needs to keep coming out with new products, that's really important,'' he added.