DALLAS — A year before celebrating its 50th anniversary, K&M Tire Inc. brought its network of dealers to a state where everything seems to be bigger.
And that seemed appropriate for the Delphos, Ohio-based tire distributor, which continued to grow and expand over the last 12 months.
Buoyed by a stronger-than-usual fourth quarter, K&M just completed a year in which it registered a nearly 15-percent sales growth, marking the fifth-straight year of double-digit growth, according to Cheryl Gossard, who recently passed her first year as president of the company.
Around 1,040 people, representing 500 different dealer locations as well as 45 vendors, descended upon Big D for K&M's 2019 Dealer Conference, held Jan. 24-25 at the Hyatt Regency. The annual event featured five seminars, a two-day trade show and host of other events — including a "Sync or Swim" lip-sync competition — designed to help dealers succeed and have fun during the time away from their shop.
Motivational speaker Brian Biro delivered the keynote address, challenging dealers to "break through barriers" to reap success.
"We want (dealers) to go home with just a little bit of information, some more connections, maybe some ideas that they can implement to help make their business more successful," Ms. Gossard said.
The networking, she said, allows dealers to reach out "to other people that are having some of the same struggles that they're having, but maybe they're several states away — working with them trying to figure out what works best for them, and maybe it will work for them."
The wholesale tire distributor market underwent monumental changes in 2018. First, Michelin North America Inc. and Sumitomo Corp. of Americas formed a 50/50 joint venture, National Tire Wholesale (NTW). Then, a few months later, Bridgestone Americas Inc. and Goodyear did the same, forming TireHub L.L.C.
In the meantime, North America's largest tire distributor, American Tire Distributors Inc. (ATD) endured some difficult times, emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late 2018.