Singapore-based Omni United (S) Pte. Ltd. has opened a 35,000-sq.-ft. warehouse in St. Louis to improve delivery service to its distributors.
A contract tire manufacturing, marketing and distributing firm, Omni United has been supplying Chinese-made tires to the U.S. since its founding in 2002 by G.S. Sareen, the company's group managing director. The St. Louis warehouse opened in April and already has started to receive and ship tires, according to Mr. Sareen.
Omni United is leasing the facility, but it is eyeing the surrounding premises as potential acquisitions so that it can own the warehouse and eventually expand it to 100,000 square feet. The facility will become Omni United's primary distribution center, but the marketer also uses the warehousing facilities of its associates in Jacksonville, Fla., to distribute product in the South, Mr. Sareen said. Jacksonville is where the company's U.S. representative, Omni United USA Inc., is located.
Although Omni United already had what Mr. Sareen called a ``fantastic'' average delivery time of 12 days from order to shipment from its warehouses in China, the company has no control over shipping lanes and wanted to ensure on-time delivery to its U.S. distributors.
``We have product (in St. Louis), and we're servicing the existing customers and it's been received very, very well by the existing customers and new potentials we're talking to,'' he said.
Besides Omni United's Roadlux- and Leao-brand truck and bus radials, the facility also is offering a full line of Goodride medium truck, light truck and passenger tires, Mr. Sareen said, adding that customers already are buying Goodride products. The brand is made in China by one of the country's top manufacturers, Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. Ltd., according to Omni United's Web site.
``We have the full spread, a reasonable spread I would say, that covers almost every percent of the market requirement,'' he said.
Omni United also will market in the coming months its own registered off-the-road tire brand called Radar. It will have a full range of radial sizes of up to 23.5R25 and bias sizes of up to 2700-49 48PR T/L E4, which Mr. Sareen noted is in great demand in the U.S. He said the OTR products will be available through the St. Louis warehouse and direct from China, and the first shipment probably will occur by the end of June.
As part of its expansion plans, Omni United also has kept busy by hiring personnel to service different regions. Scott Rhodes, a longtime zone sales manager for Titan International Inc., was named vice president of the Midwest region in February and is based in Michigan, and Nadia Rodriguez was tapped to be a sales manager based in Florida.
``We are focusing on the regions, not just looking at the entire United States market in one stroke, which most import programs I think make the mistake of doing,'' Mr. Sareen said. ``Every region has got their specific characteristics and they have to be serviced in sync.''
Mr. Rhodes told Tire Business his coverage area at the present time includes Canada, and he is responsible for signing on distributors in these areas until Omni United has a ``balanced distribution base'' where customers are not competing with each other in the same market. He said the company is adding distributors ``very methodically'' in a step-by-step process.
``The whole thing we're trying to do that's different from other companies like us is we base customers with exclusivities where we can so they can take a commodity item and make it a brand of their own,'' Mr. Rhodes explained.
Mr. Sareen said Omni United's strategy behind these recent moves is to focus on its customers, giving them exclusive regions. He noted that every distributor that started with Omni United in 2002 is still partnering with the company, and each has grown its sales proportionally. One distributor, he said, has grown from about $3 million in annual sales in 2002 to nearly $10 million in sales, much of which comes from selling Omni United's brands.
The company also is investing heavily in its brands and building brand awareness, he added.
``China is expanding like there's no tomorrow, which means there's going to be a brand that will be gone every day,'' Mr. Sareen said. ``In the budget category, there will be no differentiating factor between brands. We have to stand up and create a brand before the flood gates open.''