Rest in peace, Ford Motor Co.'s ``Around the Wheel'' program, because it was just the tire manufacturers' way of showing our customers that just about anyone can be in the tire business.
You don't need to inventory a lot of tires, you can get manufacturer direct pricing-without a commitment to your supplier-and you can send all your warranty issues to a local tire dealer.
Tire manufacturers that support these programs and market their low-price, top-quality brand-name tires next to the pet supplies aisle in the local ``big-box'' stores should be aware of the commodity image they portray to consumers. Maybe this strategy sells more tires, but it does nothing to enhance the real value of a tire, or the self-esteem of real tire professionals.
Our problem is that we dealers have made it look too easy, because we're really good at what we do.
I've been told by parts managers at car dealerships that they ``don't really want to sell tires.'' And I've found that car dealers don't know how to sell tires.
Last year, 10 percent of my company's sales were through the Around the Wheel program-that included tire recall-related sales-and this year only 5 percent of my sales have been to actual Ford dealerships. Consequently, I stopped participating in the program two months ago.
The next time you're trying hard to beat a price from a local wholesale club or feel obliged to adjust tires that you didn't sell, thank the tire manufacturer for sending you a new customer.
Kenwood Tire Co.
West Bridgewater, Mass.
Help wanted: businesses
I am writing this letter on behalf of the people who live in Giles County in the state of Tennessee.
Since the year 2000, we have had three industries close and four others have had massive layoffs. On Nov. 14, my fiance, along with 179 others, returned from lunch to be told that their employer, a mobile home manufacturer, was closing down. As of that morning, no one had any health insurance.
He and I just married and were in the process of buying our first home. But that fell through when he lost his job. And shortly after that, another industry here laid off 101 workers indefinitely.
I know the economy is suffering all over, that it's not just in my town, but everywhere. My purpose for writing this letter is to ask that if there are any tire manufacturers out there that are thinking of expanding, please look into what the southern states have to offer. My town has three empty buildings, all located within a mile of each other in our industrial park.
We also have a newly built Industrial Park South that at the moment only houses one facility but has lots of acreage on which to build. We are a 45-minute drive from Nashville and an even shorter distance from Alabama.
Our people are being told at the unemployment office to go outside our county to look for jobs because there's nothing here. The local paper is crammed full every week with listings for homes that have been foreclosed, and I receive letters daily on customers who have filed for bankruptcy. The sad part is that all of these people have lost their jobs because of the closing of these industries.
If anyone is interested in what Giles County has to offer, please contact our mayor, Dan Speer, at (931) 363-8638.
Tracy M. Brown
Stewart's Wholesale Tire Co. Inc.