LAS VEGAS — Between a milestone anniversary, a new brand and more dealer programs — not to mention new products and expansions of existing product lines — 2022 promises to be quite a year for Tireco Inc.
The family-owned marketer of private and import brand tires and tire-related items has its sights focused on a better future entering the new year, as opposed to the caution and deliberate approach of the past pandemic-dominated 18 months.
Tireco, originally known as K.H.H. Enterprises, was founded in 1972, distributing among other products, tires for 10-speed bicycles. A half of a century later, Gardena, Calif.-based Tireco distributes its own Milestar brand, as well as the Westlake brand owned and produced by China's ZC Rubber Group.
"We're going to have a busy year," Andrew Hoit, vice president of sales and marketing for Tireco, told Tire Business during a break at the 2021 SEMA Show in Las Vegas.
"For the future of brand, it's really about continuing to elevate the quality and components of our products. We will continue to develop new products on par with Tier 2, Tier 1 performance but at higher value."
At the 2019 SEMA Show, Hoit and James Yim, a brand marketing strategist and co-founder of marketing agency Garbage Dream, discussed plans for a Milestar associate dealer program, as well as continued growth of the Nankang brand.
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent implementation of import duties in southeast Asia ruined those plans. The associate dealer program was delayed — the new target is the second quarter of 2022 — while tariffs implemented on tires manufactured in Taiwan prompted Tireco to suspend its relationship with Nankang Rubber Tire Corp., which stretches back to the early 1970s.
"I wouldn't be surprised to see (Nankang) come back in the future, but they would likely move their manufacturing base outside of Taiwan," Hoit said, noting that Nankang was hit with antidumping and countervailing duties of over 100%.
"The Taiwan tariff is what really crushed them. But we still have a great relationship. We're just trying to navigate it today. They're unfortunately not a player today."
To help fill that void, Hoit said Tireco is developing another "exclusive" brand, tentatively scheduled to debut in the third quarter this year. He promised more details later this year.
Tireco also plans to launch minimum advertising pricing — or MAP pricing — in conjunction with an associate dealer program. Hoit said the strategy is to allow associate dealers to compete with larger retailers and wholesale distributors around the country.
That includes using MAP pricing for Tire Distributor Xperts (TDX), Tireco's distribution network.
"MAP pricing helps to keep everyone on level playing field," he said. "Even our wholesale distribution ... has to play on a level playing field to continue to sell to other regional players around the country."
New products and sizes also are part of Tireco's expansive plans for 2022.