The idea, Mr. Welch said, is to offer a separate mobile brand for Tirebuyer partners, giving them the ability to assimilate the brand in their local markets.
The TREADSY mobile solutions division will provide products and services to the mobile market as well to other digital transportation services.
Paul Hosage, president of Tread Connection, said his company’s relationship with Tirebuyer “was built on our shared vision of creating value for operators.
“In this unique marketplace, we wanted to ensure we could provide steady upside for our franchisees and their future sales income opportunity.”
More than 11,000 Tirebuyer brick-and-mortar partners, as well as more than 80,000 ATD customers and distributors, will be able to add a TREADSY van to their businesses in order to provide mobile- tire installation services in exclusive geographic locations.
“We can build you a van, we’ve got the technology. We’ve got access to customers. We can give you a position within Tirebuyer and give you access to fleet volumes,” Mr. Welch said. “We have got the things that can mobilize a static store to have that capability within their own business.
“We wanted to establish a brand that wasn’t necessarily Tirebuyer but had flexibility within their local market.”
Mr. Welch is a pioneer in the emerging mobile tire market. More than two decades ago, he founded Black Circles Ltd., an online tire sales platform. In 2015, he sold the Edinburgh, Scotland-based entity to Group Michelin for $75.5 million. It had generated $31 million in revenue in 2013, making it the United Kingdom’s leading online tire sales venture.
After serving as a strategic adviser to online tire retailer SimpleTire L.L.C. during 2017, Mr. Welch founded Tirescanner.com in late 2018, with the intention of making it North America’s first “online portal for brick-and-mortar tire retailers.”
ATD acquired Tirescanner in March, and the combined entity, lead by Mr. Welch, has grand plans to capitalize — and monetize — on surging demand.
He said e-commerce and mobile remain a small part of the $52 billion replacement tire market, but he asserted it is growing rapidly.
“It’s quite an interesting segment of customers that are emerging,” he said. “It’s a combination of people who wouldn’t
ordinarily go online or at least we haven’t seen them online before, and people who are not looking for particular performance product. They are not what we might term motor nuts or pencil heads.”
Instead, he said, convenience is driving customers.
“These are normal customers who (say), ‘I’ve got ... to get kids to ball practice tomorrow. It’s Friday afternoon, I’ve got a flat tire; send me a mobile.’”
These customers, he said, know they will pay extra for the service. What’s interesting is that people are willing to pay extra.
“This is a problem-solving opportunity,” he said. “This is a service, like an airline. If I have to fly out tomorrow and I want to fly business class, I know I’m going to have to pay for that.”
Increasing numbers of customers — some prompted by the pandemic — are getting more comfortable with e-commerce.
“What’s starting to evolve here is for the market to take a proper margin providing a service,” Mr. Welch said. “It’s not often in our industry when we get that opportunity because it can be such a commoditized space. That collision course between people who have not bought online, and (people) who have, are at a tipping point.”
With an emerging customer base, Mr. Welch said he and Tread Connection’s Mr. Hosage began discussing the partnership that would become TREADSY.