NEW ORLEANSDelta World Tire Co., originally named World Tire & Supply, started when founder Abe Bernstein saw the need for tires during and after World War II.
Four generations later, the company is still thriving in a business where longevityand family succession planscan sometimes come up short.
Paul Bernstein, fourth generation owner of Delta World Tire, said the business started as a wholesale tire distributor in 1938 when Abe Bernstein, who was a New Orleans-based entrepreneur involved with fur trading, saw the need for tires and was able to travel up to the Northeast and bring tires back down to the South and sell them.
Once the business started to evolve, he met a few men who would help distribute the tires in Southeast and Southwest Louisiana.
Basically, they would drive into New Orleans at the beginning of the week, Mr. Bernstein said, load up their trucks with tires and then go on their routes and sell them to full-service gas stations and small tire dealers all throughout Southeast and Southwest Louisiana.
Around the time the business started to pick up and get a loyal customer base, the second generation took over, with Dave and Harry Bernstein at the helm.
To support their route sales, they decided to open two locations in areas where other distributors operated, according to Paul Bernstein.
In 1969, the Bernsteins' joined Delta Tire Corp.the forerunner of today's Del-Nat Tire Corp.which Paul Bernstein said was a cooperative. Delta World is still a member of that dealer buying/marketing group, from which it gets its private brand tire supply.
According to its website, Del-Nat was formed on Jan.1, 1989, when Delta Tire Corp. and National Tire Corp. merged, joining two strong private brands into an even stronger cooperative that enjoys numerous economies of scale and increased sourcing opportunities.
By the 1970s, World Tire had changed the name of the company to Delta World Tire. Through the second generation ownership, the business relied on its wholesale base. But with third generation owner Marvin Bernstein, along with his long-time colleague, Sterling Broussand Sr. of New Iberia, La., the dealership shifted most of its focus from wholesale to retail.
Mr. Broussand's three sons remain active in the business. Ricky and Shane Broussand are managers of the company's New Iberia location, while Sterling Broussard Jr. manages its Lafayette-area locations.
Under the direction of the third generation, the dealership hit five stores.
And we've continued to grow ever since, Paul Bernstein said.
Delta World Tire now operates 15 retail/commercial locations across southern Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast and also operates a Mighty Auto Parts franchise.
Mr. Bernstein said the Mighty sector of the business helps support the company's retails stores and third party sales.
The company primarily handles Michelin and BFGoodrich brands but also carries Cooper, Goodyear and Toyo. Mr. Bernstein called the company's affiliation with dealer cooperative Del-Nat very strong for private labels.
Although the company has its prime emphasis on retail and commercial locations, the company still has a niche wholesale business which Mr. Bernstein contributes to the length of time that we've been in business, our relationships with people and the inventory we carry.
He said although it's not a major focus the company does enjoy the relationships and the opportunities to help support the local independent tire dealers.
The firm's business comprises 85 percent retail, 2 percent commercial and 13 percent wholesale. Annual sales are approximately $28 million.
Looking toward the future, Mr. Bernstein said Delta World has enjoyed our growth over the past 10 years and will continue to add stores in specific locations...where we have the opportunity, especially when we have key people that are ready to operate a retail store on their own.
Mr. Bernstein said the company has been celebrating its milestone anniversary with a variety of events throughout the year.
To mark the company becoming Delta World Tire 45 years ago, Mr. Bernstein said he, his father Marvin and Mr. Sterling celebrated with a trip to Michelin North America Inc.'s headquarters in Greenville, S.C., and a visit to one of the tire maker's manufacturing facilities.
Delta World and its many employees have been selling those tires for many, many years, he said of Michelin's labels, and they have been ambassadors of those brands.
Mr. Bernstein said one of the best ways the company has been able to stay in business for 75 years is to realize how important the company's employees are, and that creating an environment where employees feel like family is important.
Although work is a priority, we realize that families come first, and that a happy home life carries into the office.
To reach this reporter: [email protected]; 330-865-6143.