DAVENPORT, Iowa (April 24, 2000)—With one major acquisition behind it and a new Bandag plant set to start up in May, Eastern Iowa Tire Inc. expects sales to jump by a third this year over 1999.
The moves represent taking advantage of opportunities when they present themselves, Eastern Iowa Tire President Gary Van Blaricom said. Eager to expand his business into the Des Moines, Iowa, area, he approached Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. last year about the company´s GCR Truck Tire Center in Des Moines.
"We made some inquiries, and after some discussion were able to make a deal," said Mr. Van Blaricom, who expects business at the Des Moines location to add more than $5 million in revenue to his company´s $15 million annual sales. Eastern Iowa Tire is predominantly a Bridgestone and Firestone truck tire dealer, so the deal represents continuity for BFS.
At about the same time Mr. Van Blaricom was negotiating that deal, long-time Bandag franchisee Bauer-Built Inc. was parting ways with Bandag Inc. for Michelin Retread Technologies Inc., leaving the Des Moines area open for another Bandag dealer.
With one Bandag shop in Davenport, Eastern Iowa Tire was in an ideal position to bid for the franchise. Having a new commercial tire outlet there helped. And being a company originally started by John Carver, Bandag founder Roy Carver´s son, didn´t hurt either.
The Des Moines location is Eastern Iowa Tire´s eighth tire center—one in Illinois and seven in Iowa—and the new Bandag plant eventually will double the company´s retread capacity. Eastern Iowa Tire also sells Cooper truck tires, and does industrial tire as well as medium truck tire retreading at the Davenport location. The new plant is expected to start production the second week of May with initial capacity of 88 tires a day, Mr. Van Blaricom said. Output should double in two to three years, he added.
Noting that shrinking profit margins are tire dealers´ main concern, Mr. Van Blaricom is committed to Bandag and the Tire Management Systems (TMS) program, saying Bandag´s support of dealers is "head and shoulders above other companies´ programs."
Besides servicing national account programs through TMS, Eastern Iowa Tire has taken the principles of TMS and is applying them to smaller, local fleets as well, Mr. Blaricom said.
"We have to do more for our customers," he said. "Truckers know trucking, and tire dealers know tires. It only makes sense for us to take on their tire maintenance programs."