When the software shoe didn't quite fit for Colony Tire Corp., some officials decided to do it the old-fashioned way: Make it themselves.
The resulting software created not only a new package for Colony Tire that will go online in October but also a new company that hopes to be a major player in the tire dealer software market.
Colony Tire CFO Andrew Bergeron said the Edenton-based dealership about three years ago was looking for a new software system. Colony Tire had been an ASA Tire Systems customer for about 20 years, but the tire company outgrew the system and started talking to other providers about its options, he said.
``What we found out was that there was no one solution that was really any better than ASA,'' Mr. Bergeron said. ``...The bottom line was if we moved it would've been nothing more than a lateral move.''
So Colony Tire-a retailer with a wholesale arm-teamed up with Broad Street Software Group, also based in Edenton, to produce a customized system that would handle all of Colony Tire's functions, from retail and commercial to wholesale and retreading.
``(The resulting software) covered every bit of our needs,'' Mr. Bergeron told Tire Business. ``And if it covered everything for Colony, it covered everything for everybody because there's not one part of the business we're not in.''
TireWare Inc. then was formed from this partnership. Its software of the same name was launched earlier this summer. So far five tire companies-with a total of 61 stores-have committed to use the software.
The software company is owned primarily by Broad Street, and Colony Tire doesn't hold financial interest in the company. Mr. Bergeron is interim president of the software company, but he is interviewing candidates to take over. He is looking primarily for longtime tire industry professionals-one candidate has 30 years experience-so that person can understand dealer concerns and needs.
``TireWare realizes that the edge we have over the competition is that it is run by tire people,'' Mr. Bergeron said.
David Bartley, chief operating officer for TireWare, said the software is a Windows-compatible system designed to integrate with other products. For example, the company relied on Microsoft Corp.'s Great Plains and Intuit's QuickBooks software for accounting functions instead of creating an entirely new program. He added that the program will be able to interface with tire maker programs, such as Goodyear's TireHQ system, as those makers come on board.
The software also is designed to keep most functions within the application. For example, Mr. Bartley said that within the single program a counter person would be able to tell which tires are needed, which ones are in stock and how much those tires cost.
``It's really one smooth process start to finish,'' he claimed.
TireWare officials also hope to have a pricing edge over the competition. Instead of charging high up-front licensing and other fees, TireWare is essentially leased to tire companies for a minimum of two years. TireWare charges a startup fee of a minimum of $1,998 per company, though dealerships with several outlets generally end up paying about $999 per store. After that, dealerships pay $359 per month per store (or $329 per site if they pay annually).
Mr. Bergeron said the per-site fee is different from other companies' packages that traditionally charge per login or terminal. ``TireWare is going to probably reshape the way they price things,'' he said.
Web-based training and support are included. Updates and new versions also are included though some options and customized packages are extra.
To market the new software, Mr. Bergeron said TireWare still is working off leads from its booth at last year's Specialty Equipment Market Association show as well as the Goodyear dealer meeting in February. TireWare plans to participate again at both events. He added that some of the development partners, such as Microsoft, also have offered marketing help since their products are involved as well.