Independent tire distributors that handle original equipment-spec tires and update their inventories daily can tap into a new source of business through OEConnection L.L.C., an e-commerce automotive parts procurement service dedicated to new car dealers.
Operating since 2000, OEConnection provides parts suppliers access to nearly 12,000 subscribers, representing about 50,000 users. It started looking at adding tires to the mix last year based on feedback from customers.
Following a six-month test run in the Atlanta area primarily through Kauffman Tire Inc., OEConnection began offering tires to clients in the Southeast and North Central states Sept. 15 and hopes to complete a nationwide rollout by the first quarter of 2006, according to Ted Fellowes, vice president supply chain solutions.
``By providing automotive dealers with visibility to tire distributor inventories,'' Mr. Fellowes said, ``we are saving parts managers time in locating tires, extending tire distributors' reach with lucrative new sales channels and, most importantly, delivering timely response to consumers.''
The basic function of OEConnection's online service is to streamline the OE replacement parts supply chain, Mr. Fellowes said.
Once it determined tires could be a valuable addition to the parts offered inventory, OEConnection hired Steve True-a former general manager, national accounts/government sales for Goodyear-to head up the program.
OEConnection is not an online auction site, Messrs. Fellowes and True emphasized. Most if not all car dealer networks selling tires have pre-set prices that have been negotiated, they said. Pricing information is updated monthly via the Parts Master used by most of the OEMs.
The purpose of OEConnection is to help a dealership procure a specific type or size part as quickly as possible by offering them alternative sources of supply they've likely never used or considered. The parts locator is designed to show a car dealer where he or she could obtain a part, organized geographically, said Mr. True, director of corporate sales and account relations/developing markets. The dealer can look up tires by brand, model and/or size.
The product locator starts its search with the car dealer's own inventory, Mr. True said, because often the individual searching for the part doesn't have complete oversight of his or her own dealership's stock.
Once customers see where they can obtain the desired items, they then follow instructions on how to order, either by phone or online.
Distributors wishing to be part of the OEConnection network pay a flat monthly fee to be included and must stock OE-spec tires and have the resources to update their inventories daily, Mr. Fellowes said.
The tire distributors that have signed up so far are: Tire Kingdom Inc. of Juno Beach, Fla.; Goodyear Wholesale Tire Centers; Kauffman Tire Co. of Atlanta; McGee Tire Stores of Eaton Park, Fla.; Rick & Lou's Service Center of Crystal Lake, Ill.; Cassidy Tire & Service of Chicago; Pomp's Tire Service Inc. of Green Bay, Wis.; Conrad's Total Car Care of Cleveland; Suburban Tire of Waukegan, Ill.; North Central Tire of Canton, Ohio; Parrish-McIntyre Tire of Akron; U.S. Tire & Exhaust of Combined Locks, Wis.; Capital Tire Inc. of Toledo, Ohio; and S&S Tire, K&M Tire and Terry's Tire Town of Best One Tire & Service Group.
Tom Geiger Jr. of Capital Tire said becoming an OEConnection distributor is a natural extension of his firm's wholesale business.
``The car dealer part of the business is a growing part,'' he said, `` and a segment we've been serving for a long time. OEConnection gives the car dealer vision into available inventory and considering we're all habitual, perhaps this will give us an edge.''
Mike Papi, vice president of business development for Tire Kingdom, said, ``By partnering with OEConnection, we can better serve this emerging channel and our mutual end customer by taking advantage of parts technology already in use by thousands of dealerships.''
Richfield-based OEConnection was created in 2000 by DaimlerChrysler A.G., Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and ProQuest Automotive, a unit of ProQuest Business Solutions Inc.