The weather gods were angry
Whenever there's a disaster, TB staffers are often on the phone shortly thereafter, asking tire dealers in an affected area how they're doing. Did their business survive the...earthquake...flood...fire...hordes of locusts...or (fill in your own form of pestilence)?
So it was good-well, not really good, but you know what we mean-to see our sister publication, Automotive News, doing the same thing with a car dealership in Houston. Owner Ramsey Gillman's Honda, Mitsubishi, Subaru dealership had what could only be described as an ugly, ugly week. On April 16, he looked up to see a nasty gray sky where the roof of his dealership should have been, he told AN. Then a hailstorm flooded the building and not-so-neatly applied $2 million-worth of tiny dents on 1,000 new and used vehicles on the lot. Overall, the dealership itself sustained a total of about $500,000 in damages.
To his credit, Mr. Gillman used all those ``lemons'' to, as the saying goes, make lemonade (uh, maybe lemons isn't a good word to use in a story about a car dealer).
Actually, he did what any good salesman would do: He had a sale-what he called a ``Hail of a Sale.''
With all that bad news, losing the roof wasn't the week's most painful moment. As the storm worsened and the roof showed signs of distress, Mr. Gillman had to shoo away shoppers gawking at shiny new cars in the showroom. And that, friends, is a salesman's worst nightmare. ``It just about killed me,'' he said.
Might make one want to consider something a little stronger than a glass of lemonade.
This `n that
Is there a message here?-We've seen several ``vanity'' license plates that gave pause for reflection.
A little red Mitsubishi sported: ``YIOTA'' (perhaps a Three Stooges fan?). Another car's plate proclaimed: ``BROKE.'' Since the vehicle was running, maybe the owner was busted.
A Chevy Blazer with ``I RUN FAR'' possibly attested to its owner's jogging avocation. Having been an owner of that type of ride, we know it sure couldn't mean the vehicle.
Not quakin' in his boots-It's nice to know that retired Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. executive Trevor Hoskins' sense of humor is intact.
In a recent Marketplace, we noted that Trev, who now lives in the Pacific Northwest, rode out the earthquake that hit the Seattle area earlier this year. Following the item that we called ``The Rattle in Seattle,'' he e-mailed us saying that ``we were certainly stirred, not shaken!''
His reference, of course, is to Bond...James Bond-because Trevor has 007 as part of his e-mail address. He didn't mention, though, how he likes his martinis.
Sign `em up- While kids bringing weapons to school has been described as an epidemic in some quarters, Minneapolis-St. Paul school officials are said to be rethinking their ``zero tolerance'' weapons policies. That's because some students are either unwittingly bringing weapons to school, or have been caught with stuff that was not intended to be weapons.
The Associated Press reported that weapons-related records for the four biggest Minnesota school districts show expulsions over a wide variety of weapons, including brass knuckles, a lighter, a paint grenade, firecrackers, knives, a toy squirt gun, a cap gun, a few real guns, and even a tire iron (how does one slip that up a sleeve?).
That last item, though, could simply be the tool of a wannabe tire buster. And then again, probably not.
Cheesy event-It seems that corporate sponsorship of everything from sporting events to actual sporting facilities sometimes surpasses the sublime on its way to the ridiculous.
Witness the ``Cheez-It 250,'' which took place March 24 at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn. It was the kick-off race of the NASCAR Busch Series. Beer and cheese crackers-the breakfast of champions.
Bib-style humor-Earlier this year, at the Michelin North America Inc. dealer meeting in Phoenix, the quipping Barry Downs, vice president for the tire maker's Western U.S. region, had `em rolling in the aisles with his definition of ``conference''-a ``gathering of important people who singly can do nothing, and collectively decide nothing can be done....''
What's in a name?
How often do you find people scrapping over use of something both admit is, uh, ``crappy''? Retailing giant Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd. is pursuing a dispute against a London, Ontario, construction worker over an Internet domain name it wants the intellectual rights to: crappytire.com.
Why, you might ask? In its filing with the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organization, Canadian Tire told the panel that Crappy Tire is a name with which it is closely associated. According to a story by the Financial Post DataGroup, ``Canadian Tire is also colloquially referred to or known as Crappy Tire,'' a term that is a slang expression derived from the company's trade marks and frequently used by younger Canadian Tire customers.
The reference, ``in the vast majority of cases,'' does not have a negative connotation ``but is an impertinent reference to a mass merchandiser,'' the story added.
The retailer's nemesis is Mike McFadden, who paints lines on roads for a living. He's also the owner of ``nastybugs.com'' and other Web site names and, basically, tries to make money by snaring site names, then selling them to companies. He said although he took down the crappytire.com Web site more than a year ago, he retains its ownership and won't sell it to Canadian tire at any price-even a million bucks-though the company has threatened to sue him.
Mr. McFadden told the Financial Post that he created the site with the hopes of selling it. But he also wanted to use it to complain about prices and quality, and planned to feature photos of products he said he had found cheaper elsewhere or had fallen apart after he bought them.
The retailer's Geneva filing said it found 478 Web sites that use the words ``crappy Canadian tire'' -and the company owns rights to the domain name crappytire.ca.
Is this a Canadian thing? In the States we'd bet that most tire dealerships would shy away from such a description.
But it could make for an interesting ad campaign-``Be the first on your block to put crappy tires on your car.'' Or as Forrest Gump might put it: ``Crappy is as crappy does.''
Earlier this year, at the Michelin North America Inc. meeting in Phoenix for Michelin Americas Small Tires (MAST) dealers, the quipping Barry Downs, vice president for the tire maker's Western U.S. region, had `em rolling in the aisles.
Take for instance his definition of ``conference''-a ``gathering of important people who singly can do nothing, and collectively decide nothing can be done,....''
Mr. Downs also presented a Top-10 list of things-such as calling Michelin chief Edouard M. Michelin ``Eddie''-but then only gave eight answers ``because it was discounted 20 percent, according to tire industry policy.'' He brought down the house, though, by showing the Smirnoff commercial-the one with the two guys and the bear-which debuted during this year's Super Bowl game. The spot, he noted, is the epitomy of a business solution: determine the problem, execute a resolution, then enjoy the benefits.
You must, we add, keep in mind that sometimes you get the bear, sometimes it gets you.
During the meeting, dealers got a flavor for just how ``regular'' a guy ``Eddie,'' who attended the event, can be. Seems he and his family were driving in France when their van had a flat tire. Luckily, the vehicle was sporting the tire maker's PAX run-flat tire/wheel system. So he stopped at the nearest garage, rolled up is sleeves and helped a local mechanic fix the flat tire with the available tools.
The man definitely has a future in the tire business.