RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif.-Falken Tire Corp., U.S. subsidiary of Ohtsu Tire and Rubber Co. of Japan, expects to wind up fiscal 1996 in the black Sept. 30, marking the company's first profitable year since its formation in 1990. Frank R. Dorso, President and COO of the Rancho Cucamonga-based marketer of Falken and Visa brand passenger and light truck tires, said sales are running 18 percent above those of 1995. He declined to provide further specifics concerning the company's sales and profits.
Falken Tire markets the two brands through 7,370 points of sale in the U.S., including about 360 independent tire dealerships as well as 750 NTW and Tire America outlets, owned by Sears, Roebuck and Co.
Mr. Dorso said the company is looking for additional distribution, particularly within some 24 ``target markets'' in the Midwest, south-central and Rocky Mountain states. Falken Tire's highest concentration of outlets presently is in the Southeast and its home state of California.
According to Mr. Dorso, Falken Tire is considering development of new products and dealer programs specifically tailored to crack these markets-known for having the nation's heaviest concentration of demand for 75- and 80-series passenger and light truck tires.
Falken, considered the flagship brand of Osaka, Japan-based Ohtsu in more than 100 national markets, is best-known for its high-performance and ultra-high-performance tires, he said.
High-performance and ultra HP products presently account for nearly 75 percent of Falken Tire's U.S. sales, with the balance made up of 70-, 75- and 80-series passenger tires as well as touring tires and light truck radials, Mr. Dorso said.
And, since the Falken and Visa lines have never been heavily discounted, dealers regularly gross between 35 and 43 percent on them, he added.
Pricewise, Falken is positioned to compete in the U.S. market with non-original-equipment brands such as Kelly-Springfield and Cooper.
Visa, the company's second brand, is priced about 10 percent lower than Falken and is competitive with many private brand tires.
The arrangement can prove highly profitable for the dealer who takes on Falken in combination with a major and private brand, Mr. Dorso said.