The decision by nationwide truck stop chain TravelCenters of America L.L.C. to expand into the sales and service of commercial truck tires at its 243 truck service locations in the U.S. and Canada is, in and of itself, big news.
Through its new TA Truck Service Commercial Tire Network, the company plans to become what it claims will be the largest independent commercial tire dealership in the U.S.
What that means to the industry and to competing independent commercial truck tire dealerships is still to be seen, but it is clear the Westlake, Ohio-based company has significant ambitions in the tire sector.
Certainly having 243 additional locations selling truck tires will put a hurt on competing independent commercial tire dealershipsas one dealership executive put itby becoming another major source of new truck tire sales across much of North America.
That alone should be enough to make any national, regional or local tire dealer sit up and take notice.
But TravelCenters also has a goal, through its new commercial tire network, of meeting customer demand for flexible, efficient sourcing of tires, according to Executive Vice President Barry Richards.
Wording in an advertisement in Tire Business gives an indication of what the company's business plan is for the commercial tire market.
Buying tires is now easier than ever, the ad reads. Just select a price, brand, and location. Pick them up, have them delivered, or have them installed by a highly skilled ASE-certified technician. All backed by a nationwide warranty. TA Truck Service Commercial Tire Network is the most comprehensive tire purchasing, monitoring and maintenance program in the country.
That sounds like more than a plan to simply sell one or two tires at a time to truckers coming into a TA location to replace a failing tire when they stop for fuel, a meal or to rest.
Traditionally through contracts with their tire company suppliers, truck stops have been limited in the scope of tire sales and services they can provide, including receiving special pricing so as not to impact or compete directly with independent commercial tire dealer networks and company-owned chains.
But TravelCenters has significantly expanded the ways in which we may sell tires, and the tires that we may sell to our customers, said TravelCenters President and CEO Tom O'Brien. The company also has added a slew of tire brands to its offerings that now include BFGoodrich, Pirelli, Goodyear, Kelly, Roadmaster, Continental, Yokohama and Formula by Pirelli in the eastern U.S.
Time will tell whether TravelCenters' expansion into commercial truck tire service is truly the launching of the largest independent commercial dealership in the U.S. or just another competitor putting a hurt on independent commercial dealerships' businesses.