ST. LOUIS (Jan. 24, 2003) — How do you top an all-day trade show—admittedly your best? How about getting up close and personal with the way tires are made?
For the last decade, St. Louis-based Community Wholesale Tire Distributing Inc. has gathered members of its ITD/Independent Tire Dealers buying group for a day of seminars, presentations by tire manufacturers, trade show-going and special guests like sports celebrities. Phil Berra, Community Wholesale's president, described last year's show as the company's best ever.
That said, “We're trying to do things a little differently this year,” said Mr. Berra, who oversees the company's five-year-old ITD program, which currently has 284 dealer members.
It's surprising, he told Tire Business, that many dealers have sold tires for years but may have never stepped into a factory where they're made. So ITD's doing something about that. During the week of Jan. 20, some ITD members took a tour of Bridgestone/Firestone's Oklahoma City tire plant.
Mr. Berra said the group also has planned, for March, a tour of Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. and Hercules Tire & Rubber Co. facilities in Findlay, Ohio, and is scheduling a visit to a BFS factory in Nashville, Tenn., in the fall.
ITD members—who operate in Missouri, Illinois and parts of Kansas and Iowa—enjoy benefits such as group advertising, signage, roadside assistance programs, a Web site with dealer locator, group pricing programs, a Community credit card, oil discount programs and co-op advertising. They receive marketing support from Community Wholesale, as well as brands including Goodyear, Dunlop, Bridgestone, Firestone, Toyo, Hercules, Merit, Remington, Monarch, as well as Michelin Americas Small Tires products.
As far as forsaking a trade show this year, Mr. Berra cited offering a little variety and keeping things fresh for ITD members. “We're trying to do for these independent dealers what they can't do on their own.” And that includes seeing, touching and smelling how the products they handle are made.
The group's Web site is at www.itdealers.net.