The paint's barely dry on the new private brand commercial truck tire program that just rolled out of Hercules Tire & Rubber Co. last week, but the marketer isn't bashful about saying it's expecting some ``super'' results.
The company-majority control of which was bought a year ago by FdG Associates, a New York private equity firm-has always done a good job juggling its various dealer and wholesaler programs. The latest is simply part of its continuing effort to blanket a market and open up more selling possibilities without its rainbow of distributors stepping on each other's toes.
The lynchpin brand in the new nationwide program from Findlay-based Hercules is Super Express, a medium truck radial line made by China's Qingdao Sailun Radial Tyre Co. Ltd.
Kevin Breen, Hercules private brand manager, said Super Express features seven tread patterns-S617 premium steer; S627 shallow-tread trailer; S637 trailer; S686 shallow-tread trailer; S756 open shoulder drive; S762 closed shoulder drive; and S815 highway/mixed service truck tire.
``We're a very territorial company. We have a Hercules passenger and light truck program, Merit (private brand) passenger and light truck and Hercules commercial program,'' he explained.
``This gives us another program to sell nationwide that's its own program and territory.
``Ideally, in a city, we'd like to have five different dealers of our products-one with each of our programs. It...allows us the opportunity to have a Hercules commercial dealer in a city and also a Super Express dealer with separate tread patterns, separate names and a separate program.
``So they're both moving our product but not really fighting with each other.''
In addition to the Super Express program, Hercules also has one for its Superior-brand medium truck radial made by South China Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. Mr. Breen said commercial dealership Tire Centers L.L.C. (TCI), a subsidiary of Michelin North America Inc., has been assigned that program.
Hercules operates a two-pronged market approach under the umbrella of its Hercules USA business unit, which was spawned by the consolidation last December of its Hercules Tire and Tire Dealers Warehouse (TDW) divisions.
Mike Distel is president of the unit. Mr. Breen said his private brand network focuses primarily on distributors and regional wholesalers nationwide, while TDW concentrates on dealers in its markets. In general, the controlled distribution TDW locations-in Los Angeles, San Francisco, three in Texas and one in Chicago-``serve as our brands distributors for those markets, along with numerous other brands.''
The TDW sites move the company's private labels as well as other lines including Toyo, Yokohama, Falken and Federal.
To manage increased business, the company's Hercules Canada unit recently opened a new 42,000-sq.-ft. distribution facility in Moncton, New Brunswick, that handles Hercules' full passenger, light truck and commercial tire programs.
Mr. Breen said the firm also has plans calling for at least one if not more warehouses in Florida by this time next year that would carry a full range of Hercules products and cover the entire state. The company has none there now but is scouting locations that would fit into its TDW controlled distribution network, he added.