Tire Centers (TCI) L.L.C. plans to open between four and six distribution centers this year, expanding the firm's wholesale distribution network to as many as 38 centers in 20-plus states.
The new centers will be in addition to four warehouses opened in 2005 and three added in 2004. TCI did not specify where the new centers would be, but a map on display at the company's booth at this year's Specialty Equipment Market Association trade show in Las Vegas showed new location possiblities in Tennessee, Indiana, Florida and Michigan.
The expansion reflects the growth of TCI's T3 marketing program for independent dealers, according to Dave Snyder, vice president of TCI's Distribution Division. ``The program has been well accepted because there is a need for it. That's why we are taking it into new markets and developing new features in the program.''
The program has grown to more than 530 outlets-double the number of only five years ago, according to the firm's latest advertising.
At the T3 dealer meeting in January 2005, TCI said it was targeting growth last year to 3.2 million passenger and light truck tires, or about $260 million. That volume of business would represent about 1.5 percent of the U.S. replacement market for such tires, Mr. Snyder said at the time.
Mr. Snyder pointed out TCI recently added some ``powerful new elements'' to the T3 program, including the Wheel Pros high-tech custom wheel service and an insurance program through Federated Insurance Co.
In addition, TCI has developed a customer relations management program that allows it to monitor the value each T3 dealer is getting from the firm's various assistance assets.
The T3 program, launched in 2001, is designed for dealerships selling between 3,000 and 5,000 tires annually at each point of sale, according to TCI.
The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Michelin North America Inc.
The T3 moniker is derived from the ``T'' in TCI plus the three attributes of selection, value and service. T3 dealers now have a selection of nine brands to carry-Michelin, BFGoodrich, Uniroyal, Hankook, Yokohama, Pirelli, CMA, Greenball and the Trivant private label.
In addition, TCI's commercial division recently commissioned production at a Michelin Retread Technologies Inc. (MRTI) plant in Birmingham, Ala., the firm's first retread plant in Alabama and 15th overall.
The new plant will enable TCI's Southeastern Region to improve its capability to respond to customers' needs, said Larry White, vice president of manufacturing.
``The Birmingham and surrounding area retread market is continually growing in strength,'' Mr. White said. ``By adding this MRTI plant, there will be added flexibility and reduced logistics concerns.''
TCI named Jason Shoe plant manager. He has more than seven years of retread operations experience at TCI's Statesville, N.C., and Nashville, Tenn., locations.