NUEVO VALLARTA, Mexico (Feb. 20, 2009) — Tire Centers L.L.C. (TCI) has opened 40 distribution centers in 40 new markets over the past 18 months, expanding the company's servicing capability to 95 percent of the U.S.
“We have become a national distributor of small tires,” Dave Snyder, TCI's senior vice president passenger distribution, told 160 dealer couples attending the company's Great Escape incentive trip Feb. 14-18 in Mexico.
The additional distribution centers filled “huge holes” for the company in California, Texas, Florida and the entire Southeast, he said. Altogether they give the Duncan, S.C., unit of Michelin North American Inc. a total of 77 warehouse locations.
“We now have six centers in California, six centers in Texas and six centers in Florida,” Mr. Snyder said. “Also, we now service the entire Southeast up through New England.”
TCI opened the new distribution centers in four phases, 10 at a time. Phase one opened in the third quarter of 2007, phase two in the fourth quarter of 2007, phase three mid-year 2008 and the final phase in December.
Along with the warehouse expansion, TCI's small tires division has seen exponential growth in the number of passenger and light truck tires it's distributed annually.
From 2002 to 2007, the total grew nearly 300 percent to 3.8 million units from 1.3 million.
Last year, that figure increased to 5.3 million tires and with the distribution center expansion completed, “we plan to exceed 7 million passenger and light truck tires in 2010,” Mr. Snyder said.
TCI also has seen growth in the number of dealer outlets participating in its T3 dealer program, Tim McLaughlin, vice president of business development, said during the trip's business session.
The program now has 1,010 dealer locations, up from 715 in 2007 and 550 in 2006.
In the first quarter of 2009, T3 has added several new business partners to its program offerings, Mr. McLaughlin said. They include: ConocoPhillips., which has a synthetic blend bulk oil program; the Sprint Wireless national account program for dealers, their families and employees; and Custom Wheels Unlimited, another wheel supplier for participating dealers.
Also in this year's first quarter, TCI will launch a low-cost showroom “designed to work for you in your existing showrooms with the new T3 vision,” he said. This is different than the retrofit program for current dealers and will be offered to new participants as the company strives to build its T3 dealer base throughout the country.
“One thing we know, in order to help you in these challenging economic times, is driving traffic to your locations,” Mr. McLaughlin told dealers. “There are many ways to drive traffic, but we want to drive traffic to you as a T3 member. And this is one of the most important parts of my focus for 2009.”
A full report on the TCI dealer meeting will appear in an upcoming print issue of Tire Business.