MEXICO CITY — Yokohama Tire Corp (YTC) is aiming to have 100 identified stores in Mexico by the time its parent, Yokohama Rubber Company Ltd., celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2017.
Currently the Santa Ana, Calif.-based tire maker is almost three-quarters of the way to that goal in the country.
“Today we have 60 identified stores in Mexico. We intend to have 100 by the time of our 100th anniversary in 2017,” Percy Cottle, YTC's export zone manager, told Tire Business in a telephone interview in early November.
YTC launched its Mexican subsidiary, Yokohama Tire Mexico S de RL de CV (YTMX), early in 2013. That unit began importing consumer, commercial and off-the-road (OTR) tires officially into Mexico on May 1 that year.
Gary Nash, YTMX's president, said soon afterwards that the company wanted to have at least one dealer in every one of Mexico's 31 states and one federal district, which includes Mexico City.
But Mr. Cottle said the plan had been changed slightly. “The original intention was to have one main dealer in every state,…and in the three major cities — Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey — we would probably have two or three, depending on the size of the dealer.
“We have kind of switched a little because we have found that some dealers have not been able to fulfill our needs in many states. So in some cases, in some small cities like La Paz, we have opted to keep dealers who have several dealerships in different cities.”
Mr. Cottle said that Yokohama's growth in Mexico “has not really surprised us. We bring more of a United States strategy as opposed to a standard type, Mexican style strategy…. We don't live in a vacuum and this has made us more popular. Yokohama is less conflictive than other brands. We're easier to deal with.”
He added that Yokohama is “extremely aggressive” in its marketing strategy, “but we're trying to avoid the mistakes that other brands are making. By observing and learning, we're trying to avoid that.” He did not say what mistakes he thought other companies were making.
“The market has changed,” according to Mr. Cottle, “and the brands that are part of the CNIH (Cámara Nacional de la Industria Hulera) — Mexico's national rubber industry association — have had to adapt dramatically in the past couple of years.”
The Mexican market is “more open” than before, due largely to Chinese imports, he said.
In an interview with Tire Business soon after taking over as head of YTMX, Mr. Nash said that 60 percent of the tires sold by YTMX in 2014 were consumer or passenger car tires.
But Mr. Cottle said the consumer tire percentage had increased to “maybe 70 percent,” with commercial and OTR products accounting for 15 percent each of the remainder.
“If we take our size into account,” he continued, “we are a subsidiary and we are very aggressive proportionately.”
Mr. Cottle sees only growth ahead for the tire sector in Mexico. “The economic forces are so big and strong,” he said, referring to such industries as automotive, “that only a truly disruptive government will bring them down.”
He said he believes that logistics will be “the name of the game” as far as industrial and economic development are concerned, and in terms of logistics, Mexico is in the right place geographically.
The OEMs that are rushing to build assembly plants in Mexico “know this better than anyone in my world,” he added.
Stephen Downer is a Mexico-based freelance writer who covers that country and Latin America for Tire Business and its Latin America e-newsletter.