By Bruce Davis, Tire Business staff
OKLAHOMA CITY (May 17, 2013) — T&W Tire Inc.'s decision to ally itself with Michelin Commercial Service Network and Michelin Retread Technologies (MRT) was based on a number of points, including growth potential, common market strategy and supplier support, according to T&W Managing Partner Steve Theissen.
"Michelin's overall business plant aligned more closely with what want to accomplish at T&W," he said, explaining his decision to move the Oklahoma City-based dealership to the Michelin camp after being allied with Goodyear for the past 27 years.
Michelin and T&W Tire announced their partnership May 16. The move will expand the Michelin service network by 14 locations and give Michelin its first MRT retreader in the state.
"It was a tough decision," Mr. Theissen said, noting the change had been under consideration for up to a year.
While the dealership is moving full bore to achieve the changeover, Mr. Theissen said it's a "privilege" to have worked with Goodyear the past two and half decades. T&W Tire was Goodyear's commercial dealer of the month in July 2009.
He lauded Goodyear for having a first-class product and for being a solid, reliable supplier, but in the end, "I felt our business philosophy moving forward had more in common with that of Michelin's."
Mr. Theissen, son of company co-founder Darrell Theissen, said he was impressed that Michelin is making the investment in products, support services and personnel and training to help T&W grow.
"They're working on the old theory of selling your way to profits," he said, "and that applies to their approach to indepenent dealers."
T&W is switching its inventories to the Michelin and BF Goodrich brands and phasing out all of its Goodyear, Dunlop and Kelly inventory, he said. The dealership also is looking at a number of other potential suppliers for products complementary to the Michelin product line.
Mr. Theissen said his customers have shown overwhelming support for the move, a reaction that helps solidify the decision to change, he said.
The deal expands Michelin's footprint in Oklahoma, where up to now it had relied primarily on its own TCi Tire Centers L.L.C. locations in Oklahoma City and Tulsa and a handful of Love's Travel Stops for distribution, according to the dealer locator on Michelin Americas Truck Tires' (MATT) website.
The commercial service network will grow to more than 550 locations nationwide with T&W's addition, Michelin said. T&W has nine outlets in Oklahoma and five in Texas.
T&W is in the process of converting its retread plants in Oklahoma City and San Antonio to the MRT process "as quickly as possible," Mr. Theissen said. The Oklahoma City plant will become an MRT hybrid plant—comprising both the Custom Mold mold-cure and Pre-Mold precure processes—while San Antonio will be strictly a Pre-Mold plant.
Together the two plants should be capable of nearly 500 retreads a day when fully on stream, he said.
Mr. Theissen said he and his T&W colleagues are excited about adding the Custom Mold mold-cure products to the firm's portfolio.
The dealership's other managing partner is Kane Russell, with Cord Wilson and Jon Theissen as additional partners.
"They're going to help us help our customers make a lot of money," he said.
Vic Koelsch, chief operating officer for MATT, said the addition of T&W's 14 locations "will significantly improve our overall service coverage and capability that will result in reduced costs and improved uptime for our fleet customers."
Goodyear said it does not comment on the business activity of its dealers or competitors.
By joining the Michelin commercial network, T&W adds the Michelin truck, earthmover and industrial tire lines along with BF Goodrich-brand truck tires. T&W also will now handle the Michelin-, BFG-, Uniroyal- and Riken-brand passenger and light truck tires, Michelin said.
T&W was created in 1987 when Darrell Theissen and Charles Wilson merged their separate dealerships, Theissen Tire and Wilson Tire. At that time the dealership had four commercial-only outlets, two combination commercial and retail stores and two Goodyear retread shops.
To contact this reporter: [email protected]; 330-865-6145.