Another year has ended and most tire dealers experienced a steady year, while others saw tire sales tick up in 2018.
Dealers, both large and small, for the most part are waiting to see how industry changes will affect business in the new year.
Dan Pearson, owner of Northwest Tire Inc., which operates tire stores throughout North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota, said tire sales were up 7 percent over 2017, close to his projections for the year.
"(We had) a very strong year in all commercial sales," he noted.
For C&D Tire, with five locations in Tennessee, 2018 was a good year.
"We projected numbers 5-percent higher than the previous year and exceeded projections," said David Ogle, sales manager at C&D Tire – Knoxville.
"Last year (2017) we met our projection, but we decided we could do better, so we set a higher goal and projection and used our strategy to exceed them. As we look forward to 2019, we have set the bar even higher and hope to exceed projections again."
He noted C&D introduced a road-hazard program in 2018, and its success was a pleasant surprise.
"Our goal was to sell two road hazard packages a week, and by the end of the year we are averaging one package a day," Mr. Ogle added.
Shannon Scheeler, owner/operator at Nevada Tire City in Las Vegas, said tire sales were even with 2017.
"It was almost identical. My numbers are actually almost exactly the same from (2018 to 2017). Almost to the exact dollar," he said.
Audra Fordin, owner of Flushing, N.Y.-based Great Bear Auto & Body Shop — who also heads Women Auto Know, a free membership-based site that aims to educate and empower women of all ages — said her shop saw a 2-percent increase in sales over 2017.
There was one area of her business that performed better than expected. "People are still using bulk oil instead of the recommended synthetic motor oil," she said.
While sales for some dealers were stagnant, others experienced an increase.
"Overall sales were up in both our stores," said Matthew Riechers, manager at Washington, Mo.-based Riechers Tire & Auto.
"I think it was probably better than what I expected. Sooner or later, I am waiting for the online sales to really hit us hard, and they haven't so far."
He expects sales to remain flat or decrease in 2019, considering competition from online tire sales. Mr. Riechers was impressed with his shops' repair business.
"It seems year after year, I'm shocked at how well our repair is," Mr. Riechers said.
"Given the fact that there's so much competition between the chain stores and the online and the dealerships trying to gain market share, the fact that we keep growing tire sales between our two shops surprise(s) me."
David Madden, director of operations, Adirondack Tire & Service, with 12 locations in New York and Vermont, said the company entered 2018 with "dynamic changes."
"We stepped into 2018 with a plan to better ourselves, to pay greater attention to the needs and wants of all our clients, and our sales leave me feeling we accomplished that goal," he said.
Mr. Madden said the retail side of the business exceeded expectations in 2018.
"I hold that to our grand efforts in stepping deeper into the waters of social media advertising, attaining and interacting with clients via e-mail campaigns and, of course, by servicing the public with honest and fair recommendations on keeping their transportation safe on the roads," he said.
The ATD effect