Whether or not Goodyear's tumbling stock price should concern its independent dealers depends on who's talking and what they are-or aren't-enjoying as tire buyers.
For example, Paul Sullivan, vice president of marketing for Sullivan Tire Co. in Norwell, Mass., told Tire Business he's not particularly concerned that Goodyear's stock is trading at a 12-year low.
Mr. Sullivan said his dealership has been working closely with Goodyear and getting solid sales support from the Akron-based tire maker. He believes Goodyear's depressed share price merely typifies what has been happening to a lot of other companies' stocks. ``When you look at the market in its entirety, there are an awful lot of issues that are down in price. So it's just not isolated to Goodyear,'' he said.
As far as Sullivan Tire is concerned, Goodyear is doing a good job as a tire supplier, Mr. Sullivan said. ``We're selling a lot of Goodyear tires,'' he added. In addition to the Goodyear brand-the dealership's primary brand-it also handles Bridgestone and Kumho.
On the other hand, Jim Faught, owner of Northwest Tire & Service in Flint, Mich., said Goodyear's declining stock price ``does give you a bit of concern....'' Mr. Faught said he's ``not into'' following the ups and downs of stock prices on a day-to-day basis. But he acknowledged that as a barometer of the company's financial health, Goodyear's stock price potentially could impact his relationship with the company.
A past president of the former National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association, now known as the Tire Industry Association, Mr. Faught said Goodyear has restructured its management so many times he hardly knows anyone there now. But he acknowledged that there seems to be a little more stability in Goodyear's management and field personnel of late.
``They (Goodyear) have been extremely austere in their representatives-their field people-so that it makes it very difficult to communicate. You always seem to get a new sales person whom you have to break in and help get oriented.''
Goodyear's cost-consciousness also is reflected in its pricing structure, Mr. Faught said. ``There are many cases in which you ask them for price adjustments in order to be competitive and their answer has been, `No, No, No.'''
Mr. Faught said he's encouraged that earlier that same day, Goodyear relented and made needed price concessions on a sizable tire order from Northwest Tire. And he said he hopes this indicates Goodyear now recognizes it needs to help dealers remain competitive in the marketplace.
In the past, ``I don't think they totally understood their customer's needs,'' he said.
Goodyear has been the dealership's largest supplier since 1973. But it isn't getting as much of Mr. Faught's tire business as it once enjoyed. At one time, Goodyear accounted for nearly 90 percent of the dealership's purchases. Now that share has dwindled to about 50 percent, he said.
Besides Goodyear, Northwest Tire also handles Dunlop, BFGoodrich, Firestone, General, Michelin and Uniroyal brands.