CHICAGO-Name recognition sells everything from tennis shoes to tires. But will it work for remanufactured products? The short answer: Yes.
Just like ``Nike'' emblazoned on new footwear connotes quality ala ``Air Jordan,'' the raised white ``Achievor'' letters are selling remanufactured tires through a growing number of retail outlets, according to Dick Gust, president of the tire manufacturing division of Chicago's Achievor Tire L.P.
During a recent phone interview he hinted at what will more than likely become a new marketing emphasis for the maker of remanufactured, bead-to-bead tires.
``The real concept behind Achievor is that it's a private brand,'' he explained.
``We make the tire with our name on the sidewall. When it's sold to dealers, it's sold under the Achievor name, so it is somewhat of a private brand, because we offer all-season, performance, snow and light truck tires in a full complement of sizes-which is exactly what private branders do.''
Still smarting from the loss several years ago of the catalog business of Sears, Roebuck and Co. after the retailer torpedoed its famous giant catalog, Achievor Tire is trying to recoup what had amounted to 70 percent of its annual sales. The company has been doing that in small yet productive steps, Mr. Gust said.
Working ``very closely'' with Big O Tires Inc., through its New Albany, Ind., warehouse, Achievor is selling to a number of Big O dealers who use its product as an opening price point tire. If marketed properly, he said, that could shake loose some real profits.
``The dealers are being trained to sell our product as a remanufactured tire to their customers when someone is looking for value.''
Though not being sold yet in Big O's West Coast region, Mr. Gust said he'd like to see Achievor show up in stores there, once distribution changes are solidified by Big O, which just opened a mega-warehouse in Henderson, Nev., outside Las Vegas. A pilot project begun several years back to sell Achievors in Arizona Big O stores has been in somewhat of a state of limbo, he said, until the new warehouse is fully operational.
While he would not disclose a specific amount, Mr. Gust said Achievor is selling a ``considerable number'' of tires through Big O, and the program ``is working well as a price point tire.''
And a program launched last August to market the brand through company-owned and co-operative stores in the Detroit-based Rao Group's Metro 25 chain continues to gain steam.
More than two dozen Metro 25 stores in Michigan and Ohio are carrying Achievors, and Mr. Gust said his company has just begun working with Metro 25 co-ops in Oklahoma and New Jersey.
``We're constantly looking for new dealers in areas that we do not serve,'' he continued, noting that Achievor Tire is buying some additional tire molds-including three for light truck that are primary sizes for the original equipment and replacement markets.
The company is currently taking delivery of some passenger molds in ``some of the more contemporary sizes we haven't had,'' he said, ``and we plan to fill in with a more complete complement of sizes and keep current with a lot of the tires coming out (as OE).''
Mr. Gust said the firm is ``having conversations'' with several major retailers, and could sign another in the near future.
It would also like to do business with Sears again on a ``modified basis,'' he said, but nothing has developed yet, though he doesn't deny he would love to see Achievors marketed in Sears stores.
Passenger tire retreading is hardly a blue-chip business nowadays, but it's not dead. ``Everyone always wants to kill it off,'' said Mr. Gust, ``but, if done properly, it doesn't have to be that way.''
The real problems in the industry are related to the pricing of new tires-which is not necessarily related to the cost of new tires, he said. ``It's a choice by the manufacturers to sell cheap tires and hope that they can offset that by higher-priced tires.
``There's always a price ceiling. But in terms of market penetration and share, I think the concept of passenger tire remanufacturing is better today than it has ever been. And I think the quality (of remanufactured tires) is better than it has ever been.''