Rather than ask them whether they were naughty or nice-who knows what kind of responses we might have received?-TIRE BUSINESS contacted several tire dealers and association execs to see just what was on their ``wish lists'' for the nearly pristine year just begun. After all, New Year's Day traditionally is when many Americans, recuperating from self-inflicted hangovers, resolve to do things like eat (and drink) less, exercise more, make more money (who doesn't want to?), be nicer to family and friends,*.*.*.*and on and on.
We found most dealers questing for that ultimate of Holy Grails: bigger, better profit margins.
Here's a sampling of comments:
Bill Floyd, Ohio Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association executive director, wishes ``more tire dealers would attend state and national association meetings and conventions.
``And I hope the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association, the American Retreaders Association and the Rubber Manufacturers Association come up with an industrywide trade show, to be held once a year.''
At the top of the list of Roland Lesieur, co-owner of Maynard & Lesieur, Nashua, N.H., is ``better relations between tire suppliers and dealers in order to make the dealers more competitive to be able to be around for 1997. Right now, the manufacturers aren't making that extra effort to keep their dealers in business.''
Harvey Brodsky, managing director of the Tire Retread Information Bureau (TRIB) in Carmel, Calif., has a double-pronged wish: That more people in the industry join TRIB, and that every retreader keep in mind ``the three important factors in making a retreaded tire: The first is `Quality,' the second is `Quality' and the third is `Quality.' If everyone in this industry would pay attention to those three, many of our problems would go away.''
Hank Feldman, president of Performance Plus Tire & Automotive Centers, Long Beach, Calif., hopes for ``increased profit margins and a level playing field with competitors -with cooperation from vendors, of course!''
Marvin Bozarth, executive director of the American Retreaders Association, said his wish is ``that we could solve every problem our members call us with on the spot,'' and ``provide additional services to help the hard-working dealers and retreaders solve problems, improve profit margins and expand their business.''
Don Leonard, owner of Tires Plus Inc. in Albuquerque, N.M., wishes ``tire dealers around the country would take a strong look at the low margins of profits we get on tires in relationship with the good gross profit margins we get on mechanical. It's a real shame the tire industry is satisfied with such low margins on tires. . . . In the tire portion of our business, we're almost willing to give them away.''
M. Terry Westhafer, president of Central Tire Corp., Verona, Va., said cost increases last year in merchandise, overhead and operating expenses ``squeezed our margins down significantly. We didn't get a price increase all year, (yet) saw about a 9-percent increase in the cost of making a retreaded tire. So if I have to look for something this year, it would be reasonable profit margins-whether it comes from being able to pass along some of our cost in higher prices or whether we can improve our margins on the purchasing end.''
Jerry M. Bauer of Bauer Built Inc., Durand, Wis., vowed to ``continue what we've been doing in 1995, which is work on improved gross profit margins and control expenses. We're focusing on the bottom line: improved profitability.
``. . . For a lot of people, it's going to be difficult to survive and make a profit. Our industry needs to see the demand for our product grow, (but) we've got to figure out more ways to make a profit beyond just selling our merchandise.''
Philip P. Friedlander Jr., National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association executive vice president, said NTDRA members should resolve to increase their profit margins in 1996 over 1995 by using ``the resources of the NTDRA, suppliers and others to assist in reaching that goal. The NTDRA, for its part, needs to find additional ways to help the tire dealer improve his profitability.''
We at TIRE BUSINESS wish for you the most profitable of new years, and resolve to serve independent dealers better by continuing to provide the best, most timely and helpful publication in the industry. As for the TB staff, it vows to eat less, exercise more and. . .