Bridgestone/Firestone Canada Inc.'s fledgling TireStarz program has added its first distributor members.
The Canadian version of Bridgestone/Firestone's TireStarz program in the U.S. has signed five distributors since May, said Michael Sigillito, director of consumer tire marketing for BFS Canada. These distributors, in turn, have inked 22 distributor-delivered dealers and are in the process of adding 15 others.
The new TireStarz distributor members are: OK Tire Stores Inc., Langley, British Columbia; Trail Tire Distributors, Edmonton, Alberta; City Tire & Battery, London, Ontario; Bast Tire Service, Waterloo, Ontario; and Blaskin & Lane Tire Centres, Calgary, Alberta.
These firms join another 105 TireStarz dealers who buy their tires directly from the company.
Launched in July 2003, BFS Canada's TireStarz program has two elements. TireStarz Direct is similar to BFS's Affiliated Dealer program in the U.S. where dealers buy direct from the tire maker. With the distribution component, wholesalers sign TireStarz dealers, distribute tires to them and carry the receivables, Mr. Sigillito said during an interview in Napa Sept. 14 where BFS was introducing its Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza sport-utility vehicle tire.
As in the U.S., the Canadian version includes Bridgestone, Firestone and the company's associate lines.
How many TireStarz distributors is BFS Canada looking to sign? ``We want a consistent distribution network in every part of the country,'' said Jim Schmidt, general manager, consumer products, BFS Canada, without giving any numbers. ``Ultimately we want the consumer to have options as to where they purchase our tires.''
The Canadian TireStarz program is similar to that in the U.S. Besides tires, it provides retail advertising and marketing support, a credit card program, education programs and discounts on such things as parts, oil and uniforms.
``What it does is give the small family operator the tools he needs to retail professionally in the marketplace,'' Mr. Schmidt said.
OK Tire Stores President Kenneth MacLeod said his company's relationship with BFS Canada as a new TireStarz distributor is ``pivotal to us.''
With TireStarz, ``we can take care of specialty accounts we wouldn't have access to,'' he said. The program also ``helps us reduce warehouse costs by having more of a customer base.''
Added Allen Ambrosie, general manager of Trail Tire: ``We've always been a wholesaler, and this gives us the tools now we couldn't offer dealers before.''