TROY, Mich.—Ross Kogel Sr. of Tire Wholesalers Inc. doesn't relish the high cost of establishing a business-to-business Internet link with his tire dealer customers.
But to stay competitive, he knows it's something he has to do.
So the owner of Troy-based Tire Wholesalers is footing the bill for new software, hardware and wiring to move his business into the Internet age.
"It costs a fortune," Mr. Kogel said of the investment needed to establish such Internet capability. "And I don't know how to justify it financially."
But it's not an option, he added. "I have to make it easy to do business with me."
Once in place, the Internet-based system will allow Tire Wholesalers' dealer customers to access their accounts receivables and purchase history with the company, to review inventory availability, to determine the cost of an order and to place the order.
Beyond the Internet, Mr. Kogel also is expanding his company's warehouse capacity.
He plans to construct a 44,000-sq.-ft. addition to the company's main warehouse in Troy, more than doubling its size to 79,000 square feet. If all goes smoothly, the addition could be walled in by fall, he said. If not, he intends to wait until next spring to break ground.
Mr. Kogel said the extra warehouse space will allow his company to keep growing.
During the past year, he said, the Troy warehouse has "operated under crisis conditions," with workers having to unload semi deliveries and load delivery trucks from the same docks using the same pallets.
To ease the congestion, Mr. Kogel has expanded the workday to 20 hours and relegated the unloading of tires to the daytime and the loading of delivery trucks to evenings.
The larger warehouse space also is needed to accommodate the growing number of tire sizes available, particularly in high performance, Mr. Kogel said.
The planned Troy expansion is the second such addition for Tire Wholesalers in the past year.
Last September, the dealership completed a 9,000-sq.-ft. addition to its warehouse in Cadillac, Mich., which now totals 19,000 square feet in size.
Tire Wholesalers also operates a third, 12,000-sq.-ft. warehouse in Southfield, Mich.
The company services the entire state of Michigan with tires ranging from lawn mower sizes to those for giant off-the-road vehicles.