HUNTSVILLE, Ala.-P. David Campbell is at last poised to fully implement his four-pronged attack on Dunlop Tire Corp.'s inefficiencies and problems. The 26-year veteran, who first reported for work at Dunlop's Huntsville tire plant in 1969, was named president and CEO of the Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. subsidiary in August.
``The knowledge of Dunlop is going to help me in developing the plans going forward to restructure and reformulate Dunlop,'' Mr. Campbell told dealers during a product introduction in Huntsville, Aug. 16-17. ``My job I saw very clearly as being able to provide a direction that we can all move in together with a common set of goals and objectives.''
Mr. Campbell's remarks came shortly before the firm's top executives announced the release of new versions of the D60 A2 passenger radial and Sport Rover GTX light truck tire.
They said the new tires are examples of how the firm plans to implement its ``four guiding principles'': focusing on a market-driven strategy; rapid product development; manufacturing efficiency; and ``relentless'' cost reduction.
Available beginning Sept. 5, the new D60 A2 and Sport Rover GTX offer dealers popular tire fitments that more accurately meet the wants and needs of end users, company officials said.
Dunlop has incorporated some of its Z-rated technology into the new H-rated D60 A2, producing a smoother, quieter ride, officials said. The new tire includes ``Jointless Band'' belt overlays and a continuously wound single-strand bead, both of which eliminate overlapping carcass elements resulting from traditional tire construction processes.
The tire, available in 19 sizes with a 45,000-mile treadwear warranty, also has been given an all-season tread pattern. Dunlop said the tire will be priced 1 percent above the original D60 A2.
The original D60 A2 won top honors in Consumer Reports first H-rated survey, a distinction Dunlop said it intends to retain and capitalize on. The company will be placing print advertisements announcing the new version in the October and November issues of Automobile Magazine, Car & Driver, Miata Magazine, Motor Trend, Road & Track and Forbes.
The new GTX has been given an all-weather compound that stays softer in cold weather, micro siping and outline white letters.
The tires are available in three black-serrated-letter sizes and six outline-white-letter sizes. Dealer orders of 64 units or more will include a free point-of-purchase display, an extra 60-day payment term and a free return/exchange program until Feb. 10.
``If you can't sell them, we'll take them back, no questions asked,'' said Ed Schaffer, product manager for light truck tires.
The redesigned D60 A2 and Sport Rover GTX are the first of a host of new tires and tire sizes Dunlop will be unveiling over the next 12 months-all developed in response to requests from Dunlop dealers, according to Woody Arnold, vice president of marketing.
Shortening the development time on new tires by reducing bureaucracy and bringing original equipment technology to replacement tires will enable Dunlop to produce tires that fit current market trends, Mr. Campbell said.
Over the next year, Dunlop plans to introduce:
Six new light truck tire sizes-four with outline white letters in the Radial Rover A/T line; a 265/75R16 Radial Rover R/T; and 245/75R16 Radial Rover HLT;
A metric ``fuel-efficient'' blackwall tire to replace the SP4;
Two medium truck tires-one to replace the SP131; one to eventually become Dunlop's primary steer tire;
A 75- and 70-series whitewall positioned below the SP40; and
An entry-level light truck tire.
The improvements to the D60 A2 and Sport Rover GTX and their marketing plans are a result of discussions between the company, its network of dealers and end users, officials said. The difference this time, Mr. Campbell said, was that Dunlop listened.
In order to implement a market-driven strategy, the company needs to ``build comfortable relationships'' founded on trust and integrity, he said, by instituting an open-door policy, visiting more dealerships and holding more frequent dealer council meetings.
``What I want is to let the market tell us how we should act,'' he told dealers in Huntsville.
``Now let me assure you that isn't necessarily 100 percent order fill, and it's not necessarily a no-hassle warranty program, and it's not necessarily being able to give you every product that you may like. But it is that the decisions we make and where we are going strategically with this company have to be driven by the market. . . .
``We are prepared to say `no' to the dealer,'' he continued. ``I believe that you would much rather hear `no' than `I'll get back to you,' or `we're studying that,' or `I've turned that over to headquarters.' ''
To help build trust among its dealers, Dunlop has introduced a simpler, centralized pricing policy, according to Mr. Campbell.
``You shouldn't have to have a Ph.D. in statistics or computer technology to understand how and why products are priced the way they are. . . ,'' Mr. Campbell said.
``For our dealers, the benefits would be that you will always know what products are and what they're going to cost you. And they are going to cost you the same at the first of the month as they do at the end of the month.''