NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. has created a commercial business unit, called Bridgestone/Firestone Truck Tire Sales Co., to concentrate on marketing and selling truck tires. BFTT, established March 15, will be similar to Michelin Americas Truck Tires in the sense that it will handle all aspects of BFS' commercial business, said Mike Fujimura, president of the new commercial division.
Previously, the company's truck tire sales and marketing function fell under Bridgestone/Firestone Tire Sales Co., which will now focus solely on consumer tires.
The organizational change is BFS' response to continuing consolidations within the trucking industry and its way of helping dealers improve service to fleets as the industry changes daily, Mr. Fujimura said.
``We need to make an organization concerned solely with truck tires...for the market,'' he said. ``That's number one.''
BFTT will oversee GCR Truck Tire Centers and its Oncor retreading facility in Hazelwood, Mo. GCR operates 67 commercial outlets and 18 retread shops throughout the U.S. It retreads 1,100 tires per day and posted approximately $235 million in sales in 1997, according to Tire Business rankings.
The new unit does not include Bridgestone/Firestone Canada Inc.'s commercial activities or BFS' Cobre Tire outlets, two businesses that represent an additional $350 million in annual sales. Cobre Tire is operated by the off-road division of BFS, a spokeswoman said.
By itself, BFTT is a $1 billion company, according to Tire Business estimates.
Mr. Fujimura said while BFTT will focus on sales, marketing and production of truck tires, dealers can expect BFTT to improve truck tire supply and respond quicker to their fleet service needs.
All BFS' commercial dealer programs, including its recently introduced emergency road service program, ``National Preferred,'' will fall under BFTT's management.
Rick Skinner will head BFTT's marketing efforts as director of commercial tire marketing and remain as general manager of Oncor operations. Mr. Fujimura will function both as BFTT president and as vice president of commercial tire marketing. He will report to John Lampe, president of BFS Tire Sales Co.
Mike Caswell will continue as national manager of GCR Truck Tire Centers, reporting to Mr. Fujimura.
BFS held a North American replacement market share of more than 22 percent for bias and radial truck tires—which include its Bridgestone, Firestone and Dayton brands—in 1998, Mr. Fujimura said.