AKRON (June 20, 2000)—Summit Tire of Mass. has joined American Car Care Centers as its 19th distributor member, giving the nation´s largest dealer marketing group a "much-needed" presence in the New England market.
"We´ve been devoid of representation in New England for the last five years" said Len Lewin, ACCC president and COO. The group was last served in the area by Northern States Tire, based in Lebanon, N.H., which TBC Corp. acquired in 1995.
Now Summit Tire, with nine retail stores in eastern Massachusetts and a thriving wholesale business, will promote the ACCC program in that state as well as in Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.
Ben Kravitz, president of Boston-based Summit Tire, believes independent tire dealers need a strong identity in the marketplace if they hope to compete with larger retail tire chains.
Dealers can´t offer what the large chains do, such as better warranties, better training and a wider array of products, he said. "I think independents need to be aligned with someone."
Joining ACCC, he said, "will help us build our wholesale and retail business in the future by providing us with the marketing tools to remain competitive."
The major pillars of the ACCC program include commitments to offer the group´s national credit cards, honor its two national warranties covering tires and service, and market the private-brand American Radial tire line, made by Michelin Americas Small Tires.
Dealers also are expected to fly the ACCC banner, maintain clean and inviting stores and employ technicians certified by the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence.
Overall, the program seeks to provide dealers with intensive marketing and support programs and a national identity to help them compete in a marketplace that´s consolidating.
Mr. Kravitz is no stranger to what dealer marketing groups can offer independents, having been involved with the CarMerica organization as a distributor. That program, which was shut down by Hercules Tire & Rubber Co. in 1998, sought to provide a retail support system wholesalers could take to their dealers.
"CarMerica was a Cadillac when what the dealer really needed was a Ford," Mr. Kravitz said. "The dealer that could afford it didn´t need it, and the ones that needed it couldn´t afford it."
Mr. Kravitz said his company-owned stores will become ACCC dealerships, providing them with a unifying banner. Many of the stores currently operate under different names.
He´s also preparing to introduce the ACCC program to some of his wholesale customers.
Working in conjunction with MAST, ACCC´s primary tire supplier, he´s invited about 40 Michelin Alliance dealers to a meeting to learn about the program.
"Every member of ACCC has got an alliance with MAST, either as a wholesale distributor or strategic retailer," Mr. Lewin said.
Given MAST´s relationship with ACCC, "these are the logical guys to kick off with," Mr. Kravitz said.
If Mr. Kravitz reaches his goal of establishing an ACCC network of 50-60 dealers in New England, he´ll help the marketing group reach another milestone.
ACCC needs only 33 more dealerships to reach 1,000 nationwide.
"I think Summit will push us over the 1,000 mark by the end of next year," said Dave Crawford, ACCC marketing director.