TBC Corp. President & CEO Erik R. Olsen said the tire wholesaler experienced increased demand for commercial and agricultural tires during the spring shutdown period, but as state stay-at-home orders are lifted, he expects all tire segments to bounce back for the rest of the year.
Q How would you describe business thus far in 2020?
A The first half of 2020 has proved to be challenging. We have experienced and successfully navigated many obstacles throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. I can confidently say that we are a stronger organization because of what we have overcome as a team.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have witnessed the benefit of having a diverse product screen as dealers continue to seek an exclusive, high quality product with top-tier performance, all while offering enhanced profitability.
On the OE side, historically, the knock-on effect of low OE demand increases sales in the replacement tire industry.
We are experiencing increased demand in the commercial segment, specifically:
- Medium radial truck tires, in order to keep delivery trucks on the road distributing food, supplies and mail.
- Agricultural tires are in higher demand to assist farmers with crop production efforts.
As stay-at-home orders are lifted, I believe all segments of the tire market will begin to bounce back.
Q How has your company been impacted by the pandemic?
A TBC Wholesale (NTW and TBC Brands) continues to work diligently to exceed the expectations of customers at all of our distribution centers. We continue to identify areas of opportunity to serve our dealers via services, programs and products that are the most beneficial to them.
Our partnerships with suppliers remain strong as we support one another and programs that have been implemented for business continuity purposes.
All team members have made swift adaptations when and where necessary to maintain the level of service our customers have come to expect while keeping the health, safety and well-being of our associates, our customers and our communities the priority.
Q What type of practices has your company implemented in light of COVID-19? Do you expect to continue these for the duration of the year?
A We are closely monitoring the reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and we are taking a number of precautionary measures.
Across our organization we've instituted a pandemic illness procedure that includes health and safety protocols so we can continue to serve customers. We have also implemented a phased approach to reopening and have distributed applicable phases of TBC's COVID-19 Reopening Preparedness Plan to all associates.
Associates are adhering to social-distancing guidelines, complying with orders from local municipalities and TBC's COVID-19 Reopening Preparedness Plan, and we are communicating our actions with customers via multiple channels. Guidance has also been shared on wiping down high-touch surface areas, the appropriate way to dispose of a disposable face mask and other guidelines published by the CDC.
Our purchasing team has been working diligently in partnership with our supplier partners to source and ship sanitation supplies for all locations, including masks, gloves, disinfectant spray, hand sanitizer, thermometers, tissues and hand soap. Associates are wearing masks and gloves, hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies are readily available, and temperatures are being taken daily prior to entering the workplace.
Additionally, at all locations we are working in partnership with our supplier partners to establish pick-up and drop-off procedures that do not require team members to come into contact with one another while still being extremely effective.
We have implemented many additional precautions to reduce contact between individuals and assist with social distancing, including but not limited to, suspending visitors into our centers, offering a no-touch option for capturing proof of delivery, and modifying the will-call process to limit human interaction.
Our customer service and sales team members have been mobilized in varying geographical locations to ensure we are available to support all business needs. We have prepared for many scenarios to ensure we have the product and services our customers expect from us in the right place, at the right time and at the right price.
Some practices will remain permanently as we continue to prioritize the health, safety and well-being of team members and customers while remaining committed to exceeding customer expectations.
Q Have you cut back on the number of daily deliveries to your customers? By how much?
A We continue to address market conditions as they improve to make sure that we are meeting, if not exceeding, the expectations of dealers. Many of our dealers have shared with us actions they have implemented with regards to reduced hours and modified staffing.
In accordance, we, too, temporarily modified hours of operation and have taken additional action, while never straying from our commitment to service excellence or our dedication to the health and safety of all team members.
I am happy to share that we have increased the frequency of delivery as a result of the team's hard work and in our efforts to continue serving our customers to the best of our ability.
Our commitment to our NTW and TBC Brands customers has not changed. Our skilled associates will continue to exceed expectations by providing the proper service and programs to support our dealers along the way.
Q Do you expect to return to your pre-pandemic delivery schedule? Why or why not?
A We will continue to navigate this unprecedented and evolving situation and work alongside our customers and business partners to weather this crisis together.
As we have started to see stay-at-home orders being lifted and demand recover in select markets, we have increased our delivery frequency to our pre-pandemic schedule in accordance with our service commitment to our customers.
Q Do you expect any tire supply difficulties in the second half of the year? Why or why not?
A Our supply chain and logistics team continues to focus on supply and demand, as well as inventory levels, while collaborating with our manufacturing partners to address any supply challenges as well as go-forward opportunities. The team has done an excellent job preparing for many scenarios to ensure we have the product our customers want when and where they want it.