NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Add Hercules Tire & Rubber Co. to the growing list of tire and retread industry suppliers moving into the national fleet account business. But the Findlay, Ohio-based company said it will go one step further: It will provide customized treads and rubber compounds for its dealers to use for specific fleet clients.
The National Tri-Venture program began in January, and Hercules has signed five accounts so far, including two of the nation's largest waste haulers—Casella Waste Systems Inc. of Rutland, Vt., and Republic Services Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Also signed are NationaLease, a truck leasing franchiser in Oakbrook, Ill., and Empire Express, a Memphis, Tenn.-based regional trucking firm.
``We feel that this is a real niche for us,'' said David Cormier, national sales director at Hercules. He said the Tri-Venture program was conceived at a dealer meeting last fall. Both large and small dealers came to a ``pretty good consensus'' about the structure of the program, Mr. Cormier said.
The ``Tri'' in the program's name stands for the three partners in the program: the fleet customer, the dealer and Hercules. In Tri-Venture, Hercules supports dealers with its technical department and centralized billing, Mr. Cormier said.
Mr. Cormier said Hercules can communicate with fleets about specific needs and provide customized rubber compounds and tread designs. He cited the ``high scrub application'' of the waste hauling industry—a market Hercules is targeting.
The constant stopping, starting and turning causes waste trucks to use up to three sets of tires in a year, he said.
``We can put together an integrated information system,'' he said. With this information, Hercules and its dealers can meet customer needs with specific products in a timely manner.
Mr. Cormier said Hercules will add two employees to help run the program and plans to out-source some functions, including electronic commerce.
Hercules had a modest goal of signing up six Tri-Venture accounts in the first year, Mr. Cormier said, but with that goal nearly reached, the firm now hopes to have 12 accounts this year and 12 more in 2000.