KAANAPALI BEACH, Maui, Hawaii (Jan. 12, 2002) – Acknowledging that it's a continuing problem that he simply “hates” to talk about, Continental Tire North America Inc.'s new president and CEO, Ulrich Wellen, nevertheless said improving the company's fill rates is a topic he simply must and will continue to discuss with dealers—until the problem is remedied.
And he promised that CTNA will make good on its vow to fix what he described as one of the main complaints of its dealers.
CTNA started off 2001 with fill rates averaging about 90 percent, according to Mike Barker, vice president sales and marketing, passenger/light truck replacement group, but eventually settled in to a pace running at about 80 percent for the year.
In an interview with Tire Business, Mr. Wellen said that is simply not good enough. He cited across the board production curtailments, including plant closings, as reasons that exacerbated the company's inability to fill customers' orders.
“We're probably no worse than anyone else,” Mr. Barker said in reference to fill rates, but “2001 was still a tough year” as the Charlotte, N.C.-based tire maker struggled to adjust inventories in order to get them more manageable while attempting to improve cash flow.
Mr. Wellen said the company is getting some help from its plants in Europe to solve the fill rate problems, and “we are changing how we operate internally” in certain areas. That includes using different forecasting methods based on “market intelligence,” the economy, historical data and “input from our customers.”
Addressing the fill rate problem “is on my desk—it's one of my personal projects,” he said. “If we can't fill our customers' orders, we lose big and we can't let that happen.”