SAN FRANCISCO With baseball fanfare as a backdrop, executives of Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.'s associate brand division disclosed their 1996 game plan to dealers at the Dayton Tire marketing meeting, Feb. 1-3 in San Francisco. The plan calls for resolving supply problems while continuing to grab market share, as the company did last year.
Dealers in attendance, like avid sports fans, didn't doubt them a bit.
Attendees laughed wholeheartedly at emcee and recently named St. Louis Cardinals' manager Tony LaRussa's baseball stories and cheered the candid apologies for 1995's supply problems offered by high-level executives.
``We will overcome these problems. We will resolve our problems. We will improve our supply rate,'' said BFS Executive Vice President John Lampe. ``But I'm not making any excuses. We have not done what we should have done for you in 1995. Believe me, it will get better.''
In 1995, Dayton continued to reel from the effects of BFS' employee relations problems and was impacted by an on-going strike at the Joliette, Quebec, plant, which primarily makes original equipment tires.
To fill OE contracts, the company shifted production to other plants-a move that disrupted production in Oklahoma City, where 70 percent of Dayton's products are made, according to Dayton President Tom Crofutt.
Other disruptions-including a fire that closed the plant for two days and a wind storm that ripped 400 yards of roof off of a warehouse-also hampered production.
But with increased manufacturing productivity and a new, easier-to-use corporate telephone system, dealer fill rates should improve, said John Vincent, Dayton associate brands director.
But, he warned, the road will not be easy for Dayton and Road King dealers, who will face tough competition in a market he expects will grow by only 1 percent.
To help dealers remain competitive, Dayton will introduce several new tires. They include:
The Daytona HR/4 and Road King HR/4 H-rated lines, replacing the Daytona H/R+ and Widetrack Radial H/R. The tires offer improved wet performance, mirror image sidewalls and 40,000-mile treadwear and 50-percent replacement warranties;
The Quadra SE and Grenadier SE, with a 50,000-mile treadwear warranty and a 50-percent replacement warranty;
Four new sizes of the Daytona and Road King Premium Touring GT lines, available in 1997; and
A new all-season highway addition to the Stag and Baja families featuring solid shoulders for wear resistance and added traction, to be available in 1997.