DALLAS — Coming off back-to-back record years in 2020 and 2021, Big O Tires is focusing squarely on the future with plans to take the brand nationwide and delve more seriously into the last-mile fleet delivery business to grow sales.
Big O Tires, the TBC Corp. franchise program with over 460 points of sale spread throughout 25 states, is celebrating its 60th year in existence in 2022.
In comments to several hundred assembled franchise owners, employees and family members during the group's annual franchise convention and trade show, TBC President and CEO Laurent Bourrut said TBC expects Big O to keep growing at or beyond the pace of the past few years by focusing on its core value of being the "value leader" in the territories and segments where it competes.
Bourrut and other TBC executives lauded those present for their passion and business agility to overcome the effects of the COVID-19 lockdowns and business interruptions to chalk up two consecutive record years of sales. The Big O store network exceeded $1 billion in collective revenue last year, becoming the fourth TBC business segment to achieve this level.
Bourrut and other TBC execs didn't elaborate on the timing of the planned initiative to build the brand nationwide, other than to say there still is a great deal of "white space" within the brand's existing distribution footprint to fill before expanding into new territories.
Jim Bull, vice president and general manager of the Big O business, noted that the franchise network's business so far in 2022 is up nearly 20% over 2021, during which a dozen new Big O locations opened. TBC also retained 100% of franchises that were up for renewal in the past year, he said.
As for expansion, Bull noted that the goal is to "become a national brand without losing our identity, our heritage."
Big O's store network is located predominantly west of the Mississippi, although there are dozens of locations in Indiana and Kentucky and a growing presence in Tennessee.
In terms of growing, Bull said the Big O franchise family will need to "adapt and change" to the evolving marketplace and a coming generational shift, as more and more long-time veterans of the franchise program are looking to retire.
Don Byrd, chief marketing and procurement officer, clued the dealers into several trends they need to be tracking for growth opportunities, including the growth of the last-mile commercial delivery segment, the growing electric-vehicle segment and the growth of fleet business.
Byrd and other executives stressed the opportunities offered by the last-mile and local/regional fleet business. Tapping into it likely will require investments, they said, such as adding one or more mobile tire-servicing vehicles that will allow them to perform tire and auto service on the fleets' depots.
The executives also stressed the need for franchisees to keep improving their business with Tier 1 tire brands, which will bring in more premium customers.
On this front, Big O announced that franchisees will be able to order Bridgestone and Firestone brands for the first time through the NTW wholesale distribution network, replacing Continental as a featured Tier 1 brand. The Continental brand remains in the Big O TIres portfolio, however. .
TBC/Big O also announced the Big O tire brand is now being produced in Japan by Toyo Tire Corp. This shift away from longtime supply partner Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. allowed the company to refresh the design and construction of the two main lines — the Big Foot AT-II and Legacy All-Season.
Cooper-brand tires are still part of the Big O Tire portfolio, as are Toyo and Nitto brands.