EAST NORRITON, Pa. (March 27, 2003) — A new Treadways Corp. marketing program called “Treadmasters” aims to develop crucial dealer relations beyond just shipping them tires.
The program will be marketed by three of Treadways' four divisions—TreadXpress, which handles the Laramie brand, Eldorado and Jetzon/Telstar/Centennial. The fourth division, Sumitomo, is not participating. A first-time partnership with Pirelli Tire North America Inc. will couple Pirelli tires with one of Treadways' three custom brands, depending on geographic region.
The tires will be distributed from Treadways' 14 distribution centers or its warehouse in Missouri.
“We needed a major brand to market the program,” Jim Hannon, vice president of sales and marketing, said of Pirelli. “It's a very good fit for Treadways.”
TreadXpress is a G3 Xpress wholesale distributor for Goodyear, but those brands are available only in certain regions, Mr. Hannon said. The Pirelli agreement applies nationally.
“It allowed us to market the program throughout the continental U.S. without restrictions,” he said.
Dan Wire, CEO of Treadways, told Tire Business that Pirelli is a brand with a large consumer acceptance worldwide, though it is not yet as large in the U.S. as it is in Europe. Mr. Wire said the market seems to be coming to Pirelli, which has been known as a high-performance brand noted for its technological advancements.
“We're making a large commitment,” Mr. Wire said while attending Pirelli's dealer meeting and product launch March 20-23 in Atlanta. “And based on what we saw here, we're very pleased,” Mr. Wire said.
He added Treadways selected Pirelli for the Treadmasters program because of the distributor's confidence in Pirelli's management team, including Gaetano Mannino, president and CEO, and Ricardo Cichi, vice president of sales and marketing.
In addition to the brands, the Treadmasters program offers many services for dealers' customers, including a Web-based member locator, a nationwide tire and automotive service warranty, a retail credit card program, point-of-purchase materials and other support material.
“The relationship won't end when we ship the guy the tires,” Mr. Hannon said. “That's when we hope it starts.”
But the marketing program isn't a new idea. American Car Care Centers Inc. has supported a similar campaign for its members since 1989, said Dave Crawford, director of marketing. That package, which is part of a dealer's monthly membership fee, includes national marketing campaign materials, a tire warranty, training and certification programs and a consumer credit card.
“It's more than just selling a tire off the back of a truck,” Mr. Crawford said.
Mr. Crawford added that the benefits administered are nearly as important as having them in the first place. Mr. Hannon hopes Treadways' marketing program can differentiate itself in some key areas.
First, the monthly membership fee is about $100, which Mr. Hannon said is less expensive than similar programs. Also, the tire warranty program allows consumers to pick any service shop—not just members—when something fails, and the original tire dealer doesn't face recourse for the failure.
In addition, Mr. Hannon said Treadways will not require member dealers to commit a certain percentage of their business to Treadways.
In those details and the program in general, Mr. Hannon said Treadways wants to improve dealer relations.
“The business has gotten more complex, in particular with tires as we've gotten into considerably greater ranges of SKUs,” Mr. Hannon said, adding many dealers asked for help navigating them as well as helping customers understand the variety of options.