NEW ORLEANS-For nearly three decades, Barry Robbins helped Goodyear deal with its retail customers. Now he'll sit on the other side of the fence at the head of Tire Alliance Groupe Inc., a recently formed buying and marketing group comprising seven of the industry's largest retailers.
Mr. Robbins was named president and CEO of TAG Oct. 12 during the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association convention and trade show in New Orleans.
The 27-year Goodyear veteran and former vice president of marketing, North American Tires, was picked from a list of about 30 interested candidates, according to Dan Beach, TAG spokesman and president of Parnelli Jones Inc.
``We were very lucky to have the timing work out on this,'' Mr. Beach said. ``I have a lot of respect for the changes that took place (at Goodyear) while he was there.''
Mr. Robbins, however, admits he has his work cut out for him at the head of a retailer group that is still in its infancy.
For starters, TAG has yet to iron out a tire supply agreement with a manufacturer. That, Mr. Robbins said matter-of-factly, is his ``first order of business,'' and should be in place by Jan. 1.
TAG's seven members-Don Olson Tire & Auto Centers, Michel Tire Co., Parnelli Jones, Somerset Tire Service Inc., Tires Plus Groupe Ltd., Tire Warehouse Central Inc. and Town Fair Tire Centers Inc.-posted nearly $400 million in retail sales last year at 422 outlets across the U.S.
``This concept is strategically right on with the changes of today,'' Mr. Robbins said shortly after accepting the position. ``There is no limit to the future opportunities.''
Together they have the retail presence to effectively market a private brand, which eventually could be one of the benefits of the coalition, Mr. Beach said.
After securing initial supplier agreements, Mr. Robbins said he will turn his attention toward signing new members that can fill out TAG's coverage of the U.S. Currently, the group has little representation in the Northwest and Middle Atlantic states.
Only large dealerships that are at least 75 percent retail will be considered for membership, according to Mr. Beach, who added, ``We don't have number (of outlet) goals; we have profitability goals.''
During the NTDRA show, the group also announced Jim Hannon, president of Somerset Tire, has been named TAG chairman, while Tom Gegax, Tires Plus owner, is secretary-treasurer.
Mr. Robbins will head the group with a ``small staff'' in an office near his home outside of Akron.
He started with Goodyear's strategic planning department and went on to manage retail stores in Pittsburgh before becoming vice president of sales and marketing for Kelly-Springfield Tire Co. He was named president of Goodyear Canada before returning to Akron as vice president of marketing, the position he held when he left the company in March.