For a number of years, there existed a ``handshake deal'' among six major Bandag Inc. dealers in the Pacific Northwest and surrounding states to support each other's customers.
The deal worked so well that the dealers decided to make it official. Thus, in 1999 the Northwest Tire Dealer Alliance (NWTDA) was born.
``The NWTDA was founded to provide seamless service to all our customers,'' said Larry Bauman, vice president of Jubitz Tire & Retread in Portland, who is an NWTDA board member. ``Say, if one of your customers is traveling through Oregon, Washington, or those parts, he can make one phone call to have all his service needs taken care of.''
Because the NWTDA is tied in with Muscatine, Iowa-based Bandag's Emergency Tire Assistance (ETA) program, it extends the alliance's service and product availability functions to more than 1,600 service locations across the U.S., according to the NWTDA Web site. ``Bandag's ETA program has a national scope, so if a customer's in Florida, he can still call Bandag's ETA number for service,'' Mr. Bauman said.
Besides Jubitz-which has operations in both Portland and Salem, Ore.-the original six NWTDA dealers were Alpine Commercial Tire & Retread, Woodinville, Wash.; Commercial Tire Inc., Boise, Idaho; Tires Inc., Chehalis, Wash.; Whalen Tire, Butte, Mont.; and Whiteley Tire, Eureka, Calif.
Now, according to Mr. Bauman, there are 24 NWTDA dealers-all of them affiliated with Bandag, a requirement for membership-and 107 associate dealers selected by the 24 main dealers. According to the NWTDA Web site, there are now more than 500 points of service and more than 1,000 NWTDA-associated vehicles serving seven states, with Nevada and Utah added to the above-named states.
Besides one-number service availability and ETA membership, the NWTDA promises its customers high-quality Bandag retreads billed locally to their accounts by their local NWTDA dealers-and at locally negotiated prices, no matter where the tires are delivered. Also, warranties on any Bandag products purchased through the NWTDA can be handled immediately, and fleet customers pay no enrollment fees, the alliance's Web site states.
NWTDA member dealers choose their associate dealerships-usually dealers in close proximity to their own operations-that offer goods and services through the main dealers, according to Mr. Bauman. ``Associate dealers are chosen almost on a first-come, first-served basis,'' he said. ``If you're an NWTDA dealer, and you have three dealerships of your own plus an associate dealer, you probably don't need another associate.''
While no dealership has ever been expelled from the alliance, it might happen if the dealership failed to stay in good standing or did not provide 24-hour emergency road service or other services alliance members promise, Mr. Bauman said.
The alliance has not set a goal for increasing membership, Mr. Bauman said. ``But if another Bandag dealer asked to join, we wouldn't turn him down.''
As for increasing services, NWTDA members have talked about adding a buying group, but that is still in the discussion stage, he said.
The NWTDA doesn't discuss its sales volume or revenue figures, Mr. Bauman said.