With all that was going on at the Big O Tires Inc. annual dealer meeting, held in Las Vegas Feb. 12-15, (See Feb. 20 TIRE BUSINESS, page 1.) the ``really big news'' was perhaps somewhat diminished. President Steve Cloward had the rapt attention of dealers when he opened the conference by telling them the company has decided to change its name.
``It has long been our goal to make `Big O' a name recognized by every person in America,'' he said. ``So we've come up with a way to distinctly and dramatically improve our name recognition-almost overnight. We need to make one small change to our name: From now on, instead of being known as Big O Tires, we'll be known as `Big O-J Tires.'*''
He said the company's marketing and advertising team had even devised a potential TV spot. ``It'll feature a slow-moving white Ford Bronco on a Los Angeles freeway pursued by a dozen police cars,'' Mr. Cloward deadpanned. ``The voice-over will say: `Big O-J Tires-because the last thing you need at a time like this is tire trouble!'*''
A hands-down hit at the Big O conference was the keynote address by Tom Farmer, the chairman and CEO of Kwik-Fit Holdings plc, the largest independent tire and automotive parts retailer in Europe.
The company, which operates more than 800 locations in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Holland and Belgium, has headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland. It's often referred to as a kind of* ``sister company'' to Englewood, Colo.-based Big O, and Mr. Cloward even called Mr. Farmer his ``mentor.''
Along with Mr. Farmer's talk, a series of hilarious Kwik-Fit TV commercials from the past 20 years were shown. Most featured groups of uniformed automotive technicians dancing their way around the company's shops while crooning their well-recognized anthem: ``You can't get better than a Kwik-Fit fitter....''
At one point, the wiseracking Mr. Farmer held up a plastic bag emblazoned with Kwik-Fit's logo and said it was his ``briefcase.'' What better way to advertise your company wherever you go, he mused.
California probably hasn't had a tremor in, oh, a couple hours now. But the rain certainly hasn't been a slouch either.
Jack Robinson, president and owner of the two-outlet McCoy Tire in Modesto, looked like he had a crystal ball when he ran an ad last November in the Modesto Bee featuring a sketch of a guy holding an umbrella warning: ``Get ready for rain.''
No, he didn't consult the Old Farmer's Almanac or Willard Scott for a long-range weather forecast.
``I probably just got lucky,'' he said of the one-shot ad message for various Michelin tires, the dealership's primary line. ``We hadn't had rain for several years,'' he told TIRE BUSINESS, but this year the floodgates really opened, inundating the Golden State.
Business is usually slow this time of year for McCoy Tire, located 80 miles east of San Francisco, but Mr. Robinson said he's confident things will pick up soon. And, he hopefully added on Feb. 21: ``It hasn't rained for a week now.''
The University of Akron (UA) has become the leading source of information on the history of the U.S. rubber and tire industry with the acquisition of Goodyear's company archives.
UA now holds archival material from three of the five major U.S. tire makers of the 20th century and the United Rubber Workers Union, as well.
The Goodyear collection contains mostly documents and materials generated by the company for public distribution, said a UA news release. But it has yielded a few surprises. Archivists have found an autographed photo of Orville Wright, and documents relating to an inflatable airplane designed by Goodyear.
The plane reportedly took 30 Goodyear engineers at least a week to blow up, and boy, were they out of breath...Just kidding.
New on the tube: ``The George Wendt Show.'' The amiable bar slug from ``Cheers'' is now playing a guy who, along with his brother, give car advice on the radio. Et tu, Clickus et Clackus?
Edited by Sigmund J. Mikolajczyk
Tom Farmer with his ``briefcase.''
Tire Business photo by Sigmund J. Mikolajczyk