In what promises to be far from a spartan deal, Universal Cooperatives Inc. will soon begin marketing the Spartan private label under a licensing contract signed last November with Reliable Tire Co.
Universal's Tom Brawley, vice president, automotive, said the farm co-op-which for years has sold its own CO-OP farm tire brand-acquired rights from Blackwood, N.J.-based Reliable to market Spartan out of necessity.
``For a long time we didn't have an umbrella under which to cover the brands we offer,'' he said. Subsequently, several brands marketed by Universal, including Goldenmark, Silvermark and Weathermark passenger and high-performance tires made for it by Goodyear, will now become lines under the Spartan brand.
He said the group was ``just getting production runs in for the new brands'' and stocking warehouses.
Both Reliable and Universal will continue to market Spartan with, Mr. Brawley said, ``very limited'' overlap of territories. ``They had extensive coverage in certain areas and so did we and it's worked out well. We're both also looking at opening up distribution in areas neither of us are in.''
Joe B. Thomas, Reliable's COO, told Tire Business he and Mr. Brawley developed a relationship after serving as board members for the Private Brand Group. Calling the Universal-Reliable deal ``an alliance, a partnership,'' he said, ``Tom's CO-OP brand will be branded Spartan...and we're also currently developing brands-whether they're primarily for Reliable or for Tom-and ultimately they'll all have the Spartan name on them.''
Mr. Thomas said he, Mr. Brawley and Richard Betz, Reliable's president and owner, ``have agreed to territories with mostly exclusive marketing by either (Universal) or Reliable. Since we reconstituted Spartan, it gave us a chance, probably the only chance in the world, to take two companies our size and sit down with a new brand and structure it so that the puzzle pieces fit together.''
Universal also has added Agri Master farm tires to its exclusive brand portfolio. The group is marketing them in three- and four-rib fronts, implements, and R1 and R2 rear tires and, Mr. Brawley said, they're ``selling extremely well.''