GARDENA, Calif.—A youthful fling can lead to a lifetime love affair.
For Andrew Hoit, named vice president of sales and marketing in October 2016 for the national brands division of private brander and wholesaler Tireco Inc., a youthful job as a tire salesman led to a 22-year involvement (so far) with the tire industry.
Mr. Hoit had just graduated from college when friends told him they had taken jobs with National Tire Warehouse (NTW) in Atlanta.
"NTW was then the biggest tire retailer in the Atlanta area, with 35-percent market share," he said. "I could earn $35,000 a year straight out of college just selling tires at the counter.
"My attitude was that I'd make $35,000 a year until I had a real job," Mr. Hoit said. "Well, it turned into a real job."
Mr. Hoit worked for NTW in Tennessee, Florida and West Virginia, concentrating on the company's fleet and other "non-traditional" tire businesses, and finally he went to South Carolina to be in charge of all NTW operations in the state.
It was during this time that the Sears Group acquired NTW, he said, and before long Sears sent him to corporate headquarters in Hoffman Estates, Ill., to head a 20-employee business development team. Later, he also was a buyer for Sears.
One of the companies Mr. Hoit dealt with frequently was Falken Tire Corp., importer and distributof of the Falken brand. His rapport with Falken management proved fortunate when, in 2007, he decided to move on from Sears.
"Sears had been going in a bad direction," he said, "whereas Falken was a young company with a great corporate culture."
Mr. Hoit spent nine years with Falken, first as vice president of marketing and then as vice president of sales for the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.
"Then," Mr. Hoit said, "Tireco presented itself."
Founded in 1972 by Bob and Mimi Liu, Tireco is a family-owned private brand distribution and marketing company that serves customers nationwide through its network of eight warehouses.
Tireco is the exclusive distributor for Nankang-brand tires in North America and for Westlake-brand tires in the U.S. It also exclusively owns and distributes the Milestar, Freestar, Geostar, Geotrac, Nanco and Tracgard brands.
Through all of these brands, Tireco distributes a wide array of tires ranging from commercial and consumer to specialty tires, as well as custom wheels.
While Mr. Hoit's job is to promote all these brands, his special mandate is to raise the profile of Milestar, he said.
"When Milestar was unveiled in 2011, it was developed as a brand we'd own globally," Mr. Hoit said. "Developing Milestar is really why I'm here."
From now on, Milestar will be positioned as Tireco's flagship brand, according to Mr. Hoit. "We want Milestar to be the biggest Tier 3 supplier," he said.
The first step is to make sure that there is a full range of Milestar tires in every market sector, according to Mr. Hoit—passenger, SUV, CUV, UHP, light truck and medium/heavy-duty truck.
"We have been weak on the light-truck side, but we have significantly expanded those offerings," he said. "We're now highly focused on the light truck side, as well as all-season products, passenger tires and SUV tires."
When asked about President-elect Trump's threats to place heavy tariffs on products imported into the U.S., Mr. Hoit said that was not a major concern for Tireco.
"We source almost no product from China anymore," he said. "We obtain tires primarily from Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.
"The Trump administration could begin investigations against those countries, but it would take some time," he said. "So many companies manufacture tires in those countries now—not just private branders but also nameplate companies such as Bridgestone and Sumitomo."