LAS VEGAS—Goodyear wants tire dealers to feel the power of ``G3,'' a new term symbolizing the company's multibrand tire offerings and an array of customer programs and services. Tied to the program, unveiled Nov. 2 at the International Tire Exhibition/Specialty Equipment Market Association Show in Las Vegas, are plans by Goodyear to drop three private brands, reduce certain tire lines and step up imports from Poland and South America in order to improve the firm's lingering fill-rate problems.
Company officials also announced new marketing and distribution plans for the Remington and Centennial brands acquired along with the Dunlop brand in the recently completed ``alliance'' with Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd.
That deal, which closed Sept. 1, gave Goodyear control of Sumitomo's tire operations in North America and Europe, including Dunlop Tire Corp., based in Buffalo, N.Y.
``G3 represents `the power of three,'*'' said Marco Molinari, vice president of sales and marketing for North American Tire.
``It is all the best qualities of our world-leading Goodyear brand, the legendary performance qualities of our Dunlop brand and the value representation of the Kelly brand,'' he said.
Under the new marketing strategy, Goodyear will serve as the premium line, Dunlop will be positioned in the middle range and Kelly, at the value end.
G3 also includes the company's associate brands, such as Remington, Centennial, Lee, Star, Monarch and others.
The centerpiece of Goodyear's display at the ITE/SEMA show, the G3 logo features an encircled G3 surrounded by a triangle with the individual Goodyear, Dunlop and Kelly logos in the three corners.
Mr. Molinari said dealers soon will begin seeing the logo in displays and other forms of communication. ``To them, we hope it comes to represent more than just a consolidation of three great tire brands. G3 should stand for the total package of products, programs and service that is unrivaled in the tire industry today,'' he said.
To solve its supply problems, which became acute in recent months, Goodyear has put together a three-pronged attack.
The aim is to secure additional tire production for its North American business and ``increase product supply to our valued customers,'' said Bill Sharp, Goodyear's president of North American Tire.
Under the plan, Goodyear will reduce the number of tire sizes it makes by 23 percent, effective Jan. 1. This reduction of 2,100 product codes (product lines and items), including 1,600 in the custom brands segment, will allow the company to better focus on its strategic customers and improve overall customer service and manufacturing efficiencies, Mr. Sharp said.
However, some non-premium Goodyear-brand lines also may be eliminated, a company spokesman said.
Goodyear has been informing customers of the product cutbacks over the past few weeks and is offering them other lines in the same sizes, a company spokesman said.
The tire maker also will quit making three private brand lines, the spokesman added: Ultra Tech, owned by Major Tires Corp., in Miami; Shell, marketed by Team TBA in Milwaukee, Wis.; and Pos-A-Traction, distributed by Pos-A-Traction Inc. in Inglewood, Calif.
Eliminating these accounts and lines will open up production capacity for making the Goodyear, Dunlop and Kelly brands, the Goodyear spokesman said. ``It gets pretty complex at the manufacturing plants,'' he said. ``By getting rid of some of that complexity, the plants will run more efficiently.''
To further enhance supply, Goodyear also is sourcing close to 2 million tires from its Polish subsidiary, T.C. Debica S.A., and will bring in an additional 2 million units from its facilities in South America.
Among the tires from Debica will be a new value brand called "Club by Goodyear," which eventually will replace the T-metric Decathlon.
Goodyear also is ramping up production at its Gadsden, Ala., plant and should reach production levels of 6,000 light truck and 8,000 passenger tires daily by Dec. 1. "We intend to be at 17,500 total tires per day by Jan. 1," Mr. Sharp said.
Earlier this year, Goodyear had anounced plans to phase out tire production in Gadsden by year-end, but continuing product shortages led it to reverse that decision.
``We have not been the kind of supplier that we strive to be,'' Mr. Sharp said. ``Improving our product supply and, thus, our fill rates, has been our first, second and third priority as we finish 1999 and look forward to next year. And we are making decisions—like these—that will position Goodyear as a dependable and valued supplier.''
Goodyear also has big plans to expand and market the Remington and Centennial lines through private branders Summit Tire & Battery Inc. and Treadways Corp., respectively.
J.B. Wilson, president of Summit Tire, said Summit will be replaced by a new joint-venture operation that will include all 35 Summit- and Remington-brand distributors as shareholders. John O'Rourke, executive director of Summit Tire, will manage the new operation, which has yet to be named.
The group expects to expand the brand's distribution base as it enters previously non-represented sales territories.
Remington distributors also will have access to some selected product lines offered through Goodyear's Corporate Accounts Group that currently are not available in the Remington brand.
The Corporate Accounts Group coordinates Goodyear's custom brand tire offerings and sales to mass merchandisers and other large customers.
Summit Tire, currently a private brand company owned by 15 independent tire dealers, markets and distributes the Summit tire brand, made exclusively by Goodyear.
Meanwhile, Treadways, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sumitomo Corp. of America and Sumitomo Corp. of Japan, will take over marketing responsibilities for the Centennial line, Goodyear officials said.
``This agreement between Goodyear and Treadways provides the opportunity to expand the Centennial brand's distribution base to new market territories, while continuing and solidifying the important territory protection principle for key distributors,'' said Richard Cahoon, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Dunlop Tire.
Besides the Centennial brand, Treadways markets and distributes the Laramie, Jetzon and Telstar brands in North America, all of which are made by Goodyear.
In addition, Treadways product lines not currently available in the Centennial brand will be made available to Centennial distributors.
Goodyear will continue to build the majority of the Remington and Centennial lines, which include passenger, light and medium truck radials, at Dunlop's plants in Huntsville, Ala., and Tonawanda, N.Y.