HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — American Tire Distributors Inc. (ATD) is restructuring its Field Support Center (FSC) in Huntersville, reducing its workforce there while adding new positions to bolster business for its Tire Pros marketing group subsidiary.
All of the employees affected by the layoffs work out of the FSC, which includes supporting roles for the Tire Pros franchises, as well as other ATD departments. It is unclear how many positions were eliminated, or how soon the layoffs would take effect.
"This decision was not taken lightly but necessary not only to align our capabilities with our strategy, but also to ensure the company will continue to serve its customers well into the future," a spokesman for ATD said. "...ATD will continue to deliver results for manufacturer partners, customers and Tire Pros franchisees."
Stuart Schuette, president and CEO of ATD, emailed a signed letter to ATD associates on Wednesday afternoon, thanking those affected by the reduction in force for their work and maintaining ATD's commitment to becoming "the most connected and insightful automotive solutions provider, and every decision that we have made — and will make — is grounded in realizing this vision."
Mr. Schuette hinted that more moves are on the horizon.
"We have a plan that we are working through with our sponsors, and over the course of the next few months through all of our efforts we will pave the road ahead of us," he wrote. "We look forward to sharing this with you as it becomes finalized. We will remain the industry leader in every respect."
As part of that, ATD said it was introducing a retail account manager position, whose primary focus will be to manage, support and increase business for each Tire Pros franchisee.
In addition, ATD said it will assign two senior team members who will focus entirely on franchise development, in an effort to "accelerate the number of new franchisees joining Tire Pros," the company said.
"While a number of positions have been impacted at the Field Support Center today, we are investing in many new positions that will drive the capabilities aligned with our strategy," a company spokesman said.
Huntersville-based ATD, North America's largest wholesale tire distributor, made the announcement about the new positions in a separate letter emailed to its 745-plus Tire Pros locations across the U.S.
The retail account manager role will be responsible "for unlocking all the value of the franchise and make it easier to do business with Tire Pros and ATD," Ron Sinclair, president of Tire Pros and senior vice president, retail strategy and partnerships for ATD, wrote in the Tire Pros letter.
"This team will have dedicated support from both Tire Pros and ATD in order to provide integrated marketing support and digital tools developed to grow your business."
Mr. Sinclair said the company is "committed to helping you grow your business, building the Tire Pros franchise and ensuring that working with Tire Pros and ATD is hassle-free. These changes are effective immediately. Your new retail account manager will be in touch soon to discuss the new support structure and the many opportunities it will offer."
Meanwhile, the two senior team members, who ATD has not yet named, will work to identify and enroll new Tire Pro franchisees in addition to supporting current franchisees.
"We are confident this will accelerate the number of new franchisees joining Tire Pros," Mr. Sinclair said.
"We work hard every day to enhance our Tire Pros tools, services and support to deliver on the goals of driving traffic to your stores, enhancing your operations and optimizing your overall profitability," Mr. Sinclair said.
ATD said the move is part of its ongoing transformation begun nearly two years ago that is "anchored in new technologies, analytics and digital capabilities."
With the help of its mission-based councils, composed of dealers and Tire Pros executives, Tire Pros recently launched a marketing campaign built around a simple message: "Hassle-Free. Guaranteed."
The announcement of the restructuring of Tire Pros comes a month after Bridgestone joined Goodyear in ending its supply relationship with ATD.
Bridgestone discontinued distribution of its passenger and light truck tires through ATD after its tire distribution joint venture with Goodyear, TireHub L.L.C., began operations on July 3.
Goodyear also said it was ending its relationship with ATD, choosing to distribute tires through TireHub and other regional distributors.
in January, Michelin North America Inc. (MNA) and Sumitomo Corp. of Americas (SCOA) announced they were combining Michelin's wholesale distribution activities with TBC Corp.'s wholesale assets into a 50-50 joint venture, National Tire Wholesale (NTW). While NTW has been operational since this spring, ATD continues to distribute Michelin tires.
Meanwhile, Moody's Investor Service issued a dire forecast for ATD's future, questioning whether ATD has sufficient cash reserves to cover certain projected interest payments and maintenance costs in the near future.
Moody's said ATD must cut a significant amount of its cost, while replacing 40 percent of the revenue lost from the departures of Goodyear and Bridgestone, in order to cover projected annual interest payments and maintenance investments of $243 million.