J.D. Power rates brand awareness
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.-A J.D. Power and Associates study claims auto makers trying to strengthen their image by using brand-name components may want to focus on tires and stereos.
Michelin topped the research firm's 2002 Global Component Branding Study among respondents in the U.S., Japan and Europe, followed by Pirelli, Goodyear and Bridgestone, in that order. The study measured the relative strength of a brand based on consumer awareness, familiarity and overall image of each brand. The Michelin brand is the strongest in the U.S. and Europe, while Bridgestone is the leader among Japanese consumers, Power said.
Sixty-eight percent of respondents in the U.S., Japan and Europe said they believe it's important to have branded tires, and 53 percent believe the stereo brand is important. But the importance consumers place on branded automotive components differs from region to region.
``Tire recalls in North America have certainly raised consumer awareness of tire brands, with more than four out of five U.S. consumers placing high importance on knowing the brand of tire on their new vehicle,'' said Frank Forkin, a J.D. Power partner.
Show attendance beats old record
LAS VEGAS-The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA)/International Tire Expo (ITE) show set a new record of 5,504 tire industry buyers in November in Las Vegas, the Tire Industry Association (TIA) reported.
The last record was set in 1999, when 5,099 buyers attended the annual event, which is part of the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week trade shows in Las Vegas.
Of this year's attendees, 4,033 were tire and wheel dealers and 1,207 were tire and wheel wholesale distributors, according to Reston, Va.-based TIA. The attendance figures include professionals with buying authority in their company. More than 130 tire industry companies had exhibits at the ITE, but they are not counted in the final tally.
Goodguys buys Winston location
FRESNO, Calif.-Goodguys Tires & Auto Repair has purchased a Winston Tire Co. store in Clovis, Calif., for an undisclosed amount.
In October, Goodyear announced plans to take over cash-strapped Winston and convert 44 of the chain's 97 stores into Just Tires outlets and close or sell the rest to independent dealers.
The sale will give Fresno-based Goodguys its ninth location. The retailer said it also has plans to open another 10-bay store in Clovis by Feb. 1 and start construction on an 11th site in the fall in Fresno. The dealership sells Goodyear, Continental, General, El Dorado and Hankook tires.
Goodguys Vice President Scott Shubin said the dealership had been considering a store in Clovis when the six-bay Winston store became available. He said an increase in affordable housing in the suburb has lured an influx of commuters from the San Franciso Bay Area.
Winston-owned since May 2001 by Performance Management Inc.-has been operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since Jan. 15.
Bandag raising tread rubber prices
MUSCATINE, Iowa-Bandag Inc. will raise tread rubber prices 3 percent in the U.S. and 5 percent in Canada, effective Jan. 1.
``Like others in the tire industry, we've seen an upward trend in our raw material costs,'' said Martin Carver, Muscatine-based Bandag's chairman and CEO. ``Pricing for our tread rubber products has been realigned to reflect these increased costs.''
Goodyear, Parts Plus ink battery deal
MEMPHIS, Tenn.-Parts Plus has inked a three-year agreement with Goodyear to be the primary battery supplier for 605 of Goodyear's company-owned auto service centers.
Memphis-based Parts Plus will supply batteries made by Exide Corp. under the AutoSaver, NASCAR Select and Orbital Select brands.
Bridgestone tests production system
TOKYO-Bridgestone Corp. has revealed a new, automated tire production system called BIRD-Bridgestone Innovative and Rational Development-that reportedly cuts energy consumption and floor space requirements while doubling productivity.
The system automates the entire sequence of processes in tire manufacturing, from the initial processing of materials to the final inspection of the finished tires, Bridgestone Vice President Isao Togashi told a news conference in Tokyo.
Bridgestone claims it is the world's first production system for tires that extends automation to the inspection process. Bridgestone will refine the system under mass production conditions at a pilot installation in Japan and then will deploy the technology at new and existing plants worldwide, the company said. Management at the company will position the new system as a mainstay of Bridgestone Group manufacturing.
3 more tire makers boosting prices
AKRON-Continental Tire North America Inc. (CTNA), Titan International Inc. and Bridgestone/Firestone's agricultural tire unit have announced plans to increase tire prices.
Charlotte, N.C.-based CTNA boosted prices on its passenger and light truck tires 4-5 percent on Dec. 1. The actual price increases will depend on product lines, but the hikes apply to all sales channels, said Mike Barker, vice president of replacement, marketing and sales. Affected brands include Continental, General and private brands.
He said the company did not give a reason for the increases in its letters to dealers.
Titan-a Quincy, Ill.-based farm, construction, industrial tire and wheel maker-plans to ``selectively'' raise prices on average from 3 to 7 percent, effective Jan. 1, on various tires it manufactures.
``We always try to raise our prices if we feel the market can bear it,'' Maurice ``Morry'' Taylor Jr., Titan CEO, said. ``We're basically recapturing raw material costs, which are rising,'' he explained.
The Firestone Agricultural Tire Division of Bridgestone/Firestone will increase prices next year between 2 and 5 percent on all Firestone brand agricultural, industrial and forestry tires.
The unit, located in Des Moines, Iowa, said a significant increase in raw materials costs necessitated the action. The price increases, varying by product line, will be effective for all orders placed after Feb. 1, 2003.
Pirelli brings 2nd MIRS unit on line
LAS VEGAS-Pirelli Tire North America Inc. brought on line its second MIRS tire building module at its Rome, Ga., plant Oct. 14 and plans to have a third module operating by year-end.
The first two MIRS (Modular Integrated Robotic System) units are making P Zero Nero tires in 17- and 18-inch sizes, said PTNA President and CEO Guy Mannino, speaking at the Specialty Equipment Market Association/International Tire Expo in Las Vegas. The P Zero Nero range also includes 19-inch sizes that are made in Europe.
The third module will make the Scorpion Zero, an ultra-high-performance tire for light trucks and sport-utility vehicles.
Molinari leaves Goodyear in U.K.
BIRMINGHAM, England-Marco V. Molinari, former vice president of sales and marketing for Goodyear North American Tire, has left his post as group managing director of Goodyear Dunlop U.K.
The company said Mr. Molinari left to ``pursue other interests.''
Andreas Niegsch replaced Mr. Molinari as general manager on Dec. 1. The tire maker said it is eliminating the group managing director title. In his new post, Mr. Niegsch will report to Robin McKnight, managing director of Goodyear Dunlop sales countries, Western Europe.
Mr. Molinari served as vice president of sales and marketing for North American Tire from November 1996 until July 2000, when he was named vice president of global marketing projects. That move occurred at the same time as the unexpected retirement of the division's president, William J. Sharp. Mr. Molinari became group managing director for Goodyear Dunlop U.K. in June 2001.
Most recently, Mr. Niegsch had been director of marketing and sales for Goodyear's Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa region.
Galaxy names sales manager
MALDEN, Mass.-Michael Foxhoven joined Malden-based Galaxy Tire & Wheel Inc. Dec. 2 as its national sales manager for aftermarket sales.
Starting Jan. 1, Mr. Foxhoven will be temporarily assigned to Galaxy's sales and distribution office in Hayward, Calif., where he will help the company strengthen its West Coast presence with existing and new customers, the company said. After he restructures that office, Galaxy said Mr. Foxhoven will move to the company's Boston-area headquarters to handle aftermarket sales operations.
Mr. Foxhoven last was national sales director for Findlay, Ohio-based Hercules Tire & Rubber Co.
Del-Nat taps commercial VP
MEMPHIS, Tenn.-Del-Nat Tire Corp. named Aaron C. Murphy its vice president of commercial products, effective Dec. 1.
Most recently, Mr. Murphy worked as the national account manager for Michelin North America Inc.'s subsidiary, Tire Centers L.L.C. (TCI) and managed its commercial sales training programs. Prior to that, he held various management positions with Bridgestone/Firestone's commercial division.