AKRON—All of the tire company-owned commercial tire dealership chains went through reorganization last year—each for different reasons. Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. re-assigned responsibility for most of the former Cobre Tire's truck tire assets to its GCR subsidiary, and closed or sold the five Bandag retread plants acquired in 1996.
Stores under BFS control fell by 27 to 130, as BFS Canada sold 18 outlets and three retread shops to Kal Tire, GCR consolidated down to 61 locations from 67, and Cobre dropped four to 28.
Goodyear closed about a dozen commercial locations in anticipation of consolidating the Brad Ragan network into its own, Tim Sawdey, marketing manager, said. The combined Goodyear-Brad Ragan chain now numbers 151 commercial tire outlets and 68 truck tire and seven OTR tire retreading plants across the U.S. and Canada.
Bandag Inc.'s Tire Distribution Systems Inc. subsidiary increased its reach in 1998 by buying five additional dealerships, adding 12 stores and five retread plants to its assets.
The acquired dealerships were: Kitchen & Haynie in Atlanta; Athens Bandag in Athens, Ga.; Delani Bandag in Anchorage, Alaska; Tire Team Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas; and Deas Tire in Gulfport, Miss. TDS also bought a Cobre Tire outlet and retread plant from Bridgestone/Firestone.
At the same time, though, TDS sold a handful of outlets back to Bandag strategic alliance members ``whose manufacturing and marketing organizations offered a better fit for serving customers in their respective areas,'' Bandag wrote in its 1998 annual report. It did not specify how many or where.
A key function of TDS is to ensure that ``there are no holes in our distribution network, and never will be,'' Bandag said recently, in response to questions about a number of Bandag dealers switching to other retread systems. ``Having a consistently strong distribution network from coast to coast benefits all Bandag dealers,'' the company said.
Bandag claims industry leadership in truck tire retreading with 1,600 sales and service locations and 480 retread shops throughout North America. While acknowledging ``spot shortages'' occured for specific products in 1998, Bandag is seeking to assure its fleet customers that it makes every effort to rectify these situations, either by granting a departed Bandag franchisee's territory to an existing Bandag dealer, a new entrant or a TDS location.
TDS's total outlets stood at 100 at year-end, 11 of which were considered retail-oriented sites. Its sales totaled $376.6 million, with about $350 million of this considered commercial; of the total, 57 percent was from new tires, 23 percent from retreads and the remainder from services, according to published data.