More on Chinese tire quality
I want to compliment Peggy Fisher on her excellent column in the Aug. 17 issue of Tire Business regarding Chinese tires.
In a subsequent call to her after the column was published, I mentioned that the price of grade-A casings has been going down in the last year and it's getting really hard to sell grade-B casings due to the influx of Chinese tires.
We at Beck Tire are heavy into the casing and used tire business. A lot of our casings are sold into Mexico and Central America by brokers, and that business has virtually come to a halt. It's attributed to the inexpensive tires coming in from China. I don't like to label Chinese tires as cheap—cheap connotes inferior products while inexpensive is strictly related to pricing.
The Chinese product has improved through the years, and a lot of retreaders have been accepting Chinese casings for retreading—mostly for trailer usage.
Beck Tire International
Kansas City, Mo.
Success 'not brain surgery'
In 1942, my grandfather and my dad opened a 20-mold section shop to vulcanize used tires.
Then in 1946 my dad opened a recapping shop in Culver City, Calif. In 1952, after completing four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, I entered the tire business as well. I developed a retreading route selling to gas stations, garages and car lots. One year later, I opened up my first retail tire store and, over the next 16 years, grew the dealership to 90 locations in five states, with over 1,000 employees.
By 1969 we were selling more than 8,000 tires a week. That year I had the opportunity to sell out and retire and took it. Within a year, though, I became bored and decided to open a single store in a new location.
Now, 45 years later, West Coast Tire & Complete Service has become one of the most successful single locations in the country with retail sales over $5 million a year. Currently my grandson Tom, the fifth generation to join the tire industry, has taken over control of West Coast. It is now his to run.
Due to the direction that the tire manufacturers are heading, we had to reinvent our company and do what is best for the dealership in the long run. Three years ago we suddenly lost 10,000 tire units a year and $1 million in sales to Cleveland-based Dealer Tire L.L.C. when they took over OE sales to the car agencies that we had serviced for over 30 years.
We made the decision that we would never develop a channel of business that anyone could take away from us. Because of the difficulty in selling tires today, we have become a true one-stop automotive center. In other words, we do everything to keep a customer's vehicle running, from flats to collision repair.
We have even begun buying and selling used cars as a new channel to replace lost tire revenue. We carry a heavy staff of over 20 technicians and service writers, and keep things moving with lifts to service 24 cars at any one time.
In my opinion, the independent tire dealer who has not added additional services to offset slow tire sales will have a difficult time surviving and competing with large chains that have better buying power. If I have learned anything over the last 60 years, it is to build your own brand and image, or align your company with a network of successful dealers such as the Tire Pros program.
Success is not brain surgery. In fact, it is quite simple. Our goal is to turn every potential customer into a client. If your customer/client trusts you, he or she will return time and time again. That is the foundation to build a successful business.
AAA states that every owner will spend $30,000 on each vehicle for repairs and maintenance over the vehicle's lifetime. You can not afford to lose a single customer.
We have maintained the old-school way of doing business and merged it with new ideas and technologies. We will continue to adapt and look for new avenues of growth.
Meanwhile, my grandson Tom allows me to keep my office at the shop and I get to buy him breakfast twice a week—and that suites me just fine.
West Coast Tire &