NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.—”Breakthrough” was the theme of Goodyear's 2016 Dealer Conference and company executives were full of good news for the approximately 1,100 Goodyear dealers in attendance about the business breakthroughs the tire maker has made.
Two major breakthroughs occurred in the last few months, according to Steve McClellan, president of Goodyear North America, one of several Goodyear executives who addressed attendees at the Jan. 27-29 conference at National Harbor, just outside of the nation's capital.
Combining Akron-based Goodyear's commercial and off-highway businesses was one important change outlined by Mr. McClellan. Another was the Jan. 1 reorganization of Goodyear's North American and Latin American operations into the Goodyear Americas Business Unit.
“All manufacturing plants in the whole region—including the new Americas plant in Mexico (in San Luis Potosi)—will be leveraged to serve all customers in North and Latin America,” he said.
“We are confident that the new Americas Business will serve you and your customers better by combining processes, such as product development, market forecasting and—yes—product supply. This new organization will be a huge advantage for all customers and consumers throughout the Americas.”
While Goodyear's structure has changed, its strategy hasn't changed at all, according to Mr. McClellan, who emphasized that the company is “focused on operational excellence, so we can get more of the right tires to you at the right time.”
The future looks bright for the commercial tire sector, according to Pierre Jambon, Goodyear vice president-aviation, OTR and commercial.
“Trucking will remain North America's dominant method of moving goods, with freight volume expected to grow at a steady rate,” Mr. Jambon said.
“Construction companies are going to need our tires, and they will need the expertise that you provide,” he told dealers. “It's true that demand for large OTR tires is down, but the mining business is cyclical. We know from experience that it will recover.”
Goodyear's commercial tire servicing network—which it calls the “Goodyear Total Solution”—is a major selling point for Goodyear commercial tire dealers, according to Mr. Jambon.
“Our Total Solution is the best value proposition in the industry,” he said. “It's our breakthrough. It's your breakthrough.”
Goodyear's Fleet HQ roadside service program is a great example of what the Total Solution offers Goodyear dealers, according to Mr. Jambon.
“You told us that fleets wanted something better—something more responsive, more standardized and more measurable,” he said. “We established standards and metrics; we made the process more user friendly for you and the fleet; and we have continued to improve upon this situation.
“Since its creation, Goodyear Fleet HQ has helped more than 1 million trucks get back on the road,” he said.
The makeup of North American tire consumers is changing rapidly, but those changes offer substantial opportunities to Goodyear's passenger tire dealers, according to Ryan Patterson, president of Goodyear North American Consumer.
“The growing Hispanic population is a good example,” Mr. Patterson said. “They already represent 17 percent of the population, and will grow approximately 150 percent over the next several years.
Consumers 18 to 34 years old—the so-called “millennials”—also represent a significant opportunity, he said.
“There are more millennials in the workforce than any other generation. That's why these 18-to-34-year-olds represent more than $200 billion in annual buying power.”
Studies show that, contrary to popular belief, millennials actually care deeply about their cars, according to Mr. Patterson. However, they lack confidence in performing simple car maintenance tasks, such as checking oil levels or tire pressures, and so research vehicle topics online, expecting both convenience and transparency.
“Together, we have a significant opportunity to win the trust of this generation and become their brand of choice,” he said. “Our goal is to bring consumers, whoever they are, to your stores asking for Goodyear tires.”
Andy Traicoff, vice president of consumer sales and customer development, said Goodyear continues to offer dealers a high-performing, consumer-relevant portfolio of tires.
“Our Assurance, Eagle and Wrangler products continue to meet real consumer needs and provide real consumer benefits,” Mr. Traicoff said.
“In fact, just in the last three years, nearly 40 million consumers chose our brands when making their tire-buying decisions,” he said.
Mr. Traicoff said Goodyear was particularly excited about the introduction of the Kelly Edge HP, which he said completed the revitalization of the company's economy tier.
“It's one power line, covering an impressive 85 percent of the target segment, with consistent features and benefits, making it an easy tire to sell to the value-focused consumer,” he said.
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