SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—It's been an awakening of sorts for this veteran tire company executive. ``When you finally get face-to-face with the consumer, it gives you a whole different perspective on the tire business,'' said Bob Jack.
A 21-year veteran of Pirelli S.p.A.'s North American operations, Mr. Jack last November purchased a distinctive tire dealership within a large auto dealership in this Phoenix suburb. His Car Care Tire dealership is located on the premises of Chapman Scottsdale Autoplex, a Dodge, Volkswagen and BMW dealership.
Mr. Jack's tenure with Pirelli included a stint as manager of original equipment. He began his tire business career in the early 1970s in sales for Group Michelin.
BMW and VW were Mr. Jack's two major accounts while he was with Pirelli, and that's how he learned about the tire dealership at Chapman.
``It's different than the tire dealerships I've been used to. I think that's one of the things that attracted me to it,'' he said.
Car Care Tire leases space from Chapman in one of the autoplex's three service buildings. Mr. Jack said his 1,500-sq.-ft. facility has four bays, storage space and a small office. He sells a variety of tire brands, including Goodyear, Michelin, Continental, Dunlop and Pirelli. His three employees also provide window tinting and install custom wheels, both manufacturers' upgrades and aftermarket products.
He said the car dealership used to sell tires through its own service department until about 10 years ago. Then the auto dealership personnel ``learned that they do cars better than they do tires,'' he said. The tire dealership was sold as a separate entity with its own management.
Mr. Jack said that the previous owner and operator of Car Care Tire has since taken over as manager of Chapman's service department. About 80 percent of his business comes from referrals by Chapman's service department, whose technicians check the tires on cars that come in for service. He calls these techs ``quasi salesman of mine.''
Car Care Tire sells mostly high-end, performance tires linked to the three auto brands sold by Chapman. Mr. Jack said he doesn't deal much with low-cost services such as tire repair or used tires.
He expects Car Care Tire's sales to reach about $750,000 in his first year of operation. His sales are boosted by customer perks such as complimentary car washes and shuttle service for customers while their cars are being serviced.
Mr. Jack realizes that his product and customers are upscale, so he doesn't consider large chain stores or discounters as his competition.
He considers himself and his Car Care Tire staff as the tire specialists within the larger dealership of auto experts, similar to a medical specialist's relationship with a general-practice physician.
But that doesn't mean the former tire company executive considers himself above the battle that tire dealers face. ``I have an appreciation for what my contemporaries are doing every day,'' he said.