LINCOLNTON, N.C.-J.H. Heafner Co. Inc. has distributed tires, including its own private label lines, to independent tire dealers for the past 60 years. But officials of the Lincolnton-based company say they would rather think of themselves as a ``complete supplier'' of products and equipment for their dealer customers. Take, for instance, their somewhatunusual mission statement:
``Each employee of Heafner Tires & Products is committed to the long-term growth and profitability of the independent tire dealer.''
Focusing the company's 430 employees on its customers is an important aspect to making Heafner Tire's just-in-time delivery system operate efficiently, President William Gaither said.
To that end, Heafner Tire began distributing lifts, alignment machines, balancers and power tools. ``Just about everything the independent tire dealer needs,'' Mr. Gaither said during a press conference celebrating the firm's 60th anniversary.
So its no surprise the company has also been a supplier of wheels and wheel accessories. But it wasn't until last year that Heafner Tire began distributing its own, private label wheel line: Pacer.
The company, which also recently was honored for purchasing its 5 millionth tire from Kelly-Springfield Tire Co., distributes its products throughout the Midwest and South. In May, the firm opened its 31st distribution center in Little Rock, Ark.
Heafner Tire operates on the theory that it adds value to the products it distributes for major tire, wheel and equipment manufacturers through years of expertise, quick delivery and training programs, Mr. Gaither said.
By offering all of the products a dealership may need, the company is able to simplify ordering, shipping and inventory control, according to Daniel Brown, vice president of sales and marketing.
``We play a critical role of getting the product from the manufacturer to the retailer,'' Mr. Brown said.
The Pacer wheel line, which currently offers 30 designs, is made by Prime Wheel Corp., Progressive Custom Wheels, Primax Wheel Corp., K.M.C. Wheel Corp. and SEC Wheels.
The Pacer line features one-and two-piece aluminum, composite and steel alloy wheels and is constantly being updated, according to Heafner Tire.
The rationale for offering a private brand wheel is much the same as that of offering Heafner Tire's Regul and Dynatrac private brand tire lines, according to Mr. Brown.
The company's own wheel line also can give dealers exclusivity as well as lessen the competition between Heafner Tire and its wheel manufacturers who are dealing direct to retailers through their own warehouses.
``Probably the third reason (for offering a private label wheel) is it allows us to differentiate ourselves, to make us stand out from other distributors,'' Mr. Brown added.