Modern Tire Dealer

JUN 2018

Magazine for the professional tire industry

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M T D J u n e 2 0 1 8 34 N o r t h w e s t T i r e ONLINE SALES ere's probably one big thing standing in the way of truck tires and other commercial tires becoming a hot online commodity — their size. Even though there are online retailers who sell medium truck tires, and even bigger tires, Grossman doesn't think FedEx or UPS drivers will be eager to load and unload them. It comes down to those "convenience issues," he says. ose who have talked about ordering online relay a list of concerns that keep them from pull- ing the trigger. "ey have concerns about casing trades, prices are not always com- petitive, shipping costs, return freight, and handling them." ey don't get too many instal- lation requests for commercial tires bought online, he says. Northwest Tire's farming customers usually aren't look- ing at tires online. They're more likely to ask about differ- ent tires if they feel their cur - rent ones haven't performed well. But if they're satisfied with their tire performance, they're brand loyal, Grossman says. Large fleets are more versed on new products in the marketplace. Grossman says they see them in trade publications. "ey don't come into our stores and say, 'I read about this XYZ brand online.' "e average commercial customer has several people like us calling on them several times a week. ey don't have the desire to go online. ey're exposed more than the average (retail) customer." TIRE TRENDS It's probably not a surprise that truck drivers in North Dakota and Minnesota are focused on how their tires perform in the winter. Grossman says winter traction is an especially important trait with drivers of Class 4-7 trucks who run short hauls. But Northwest Tire customers also are buying more 16-ply tires to accommodate trucks with heavier front axle ratings of 13,200 pounds, compared to the previ - ous long-standing weight of 12,000 pounds. (The extra weight load has come as truck manufacturers have added equipment to comply with emissions regulations; it's had a particular effect on the steer axle.) Grossman says there's been "a migration" as custom- ers have replaced 14-ply tires with 16-ply tires. The comp any's t r uck tire customers are making a similar gradual migration to wide-base tires. But Grossman says they're more apt to make that switch when buying a new truck. "We see more new equipment ordered with wide-base tires than changeovers," Grossman says. And even then, it's been a slow, gradual trend. "Fleets that can calculate or quantify the cargo savings to freight savings to either haul more or make less trips are eager to use ultra wide-base tires." Grossman is "an advocate for retreading," and serves on the Bandag dealer council. He's cautious when talking about the effects of low-cost import tires on the market. e company's retread operations have been affected, but he says it's difficult to measure a direct correlation. "It is hard to know the exact amount because of the change in business for the oil and farming businesses that has happened the last couple of years." Grossman believes most fleets that have a tire program are tuned into the benefits of retreads. "I don't think you can run a good tire program without including retreading." e company has a steady base of shop- pers that specifically seek tires made in the U.S. — "about half of our customers." At the same time, there is a market for imported tires. In the last year, Grossman says Northwest Tire has expanded its offerings from the Bridgestone and Firestone brands, and also now carries the full lineup from Sumitomo. INVESTING IN EQUIPMENT AND EMPLOYEES e tire dealership doesn't switch brands oen, but upgrading equipment is another story. "at's endless," Grossman says. ose decisions are driven by the need to be more efficient, and to keep employees safe. "We're buying tire trucks that have hands to handle bigger OTR tires. All of our commercial outlets have heavy-duty tire changers and balancers with lis. We're pulling double trailers to haul more tires." He believes every company pickup truck has a hydraulic li gate. Grossman says four or five years ago service trucks cost $100,000. e last one he bought was $186,000. All of those investments help Northwest Tire conduct business, but they also keep the company's workers safe. "We do things so our employees aren't 50 years old and their bodies are shot." ■ This Williston, N.D., store was built from the ground up three years ago. It is one of four Northwest Tire stores that serves both consumer retail and commercial busi- ness customers from under one roof. Kory Grossman says, "commercial is part of our long-term growth plan." Also in CTD Truck tire market: 2017 U.S. replacement medium/heavy truck tire brand shares ..................... 36 'You've got to pay to play': Tips for selling trailer tires and towing safety to consumers ............ 41 Commercially Viable ......................... 46 AG Tire Talk ........................................ 52 Tire pressure management: How TPMS and ATIS technologies meet fleet needs ................................ 55

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