One of the great things about no longer being a member of the ‘working’ automotive industry is not having to attend a seemingly endless stream of meetings and seminars that after a time all sounded the same. Not everyone felt this way and undoubtedly some of the get togethers worked, if only to boost sagging moral. As a full time working journo, Bob Ulrich of Modern Tyre Dealer (USA) still has to attend the major events and does so with a professionalism and enthusiasm that shows through in his many articles. This is his take on the recent 2015 Goodyear Dealer Meeting held recently in Grapevine, Texas.
They’re many ‘takeaways’ from this meeting and if you asked the record 2140 attendees to list them, you could probably write a book. Here are five that I thought were particularly interesting.
Goodyear will sell tyres at goodyear.com. Not everyone at the convention was happy with this announcement. In a nutshell, Goodyear believes offering consumers the opportunity to buy and pay for tyres when they visit goodyear.com will be a win-win for both Goodyear and the dealer. Goodyear gets the sale, and the dealers get 1) a delivery fee from Goodyear, 2) all installation charges, and 3) the opportunity to generate additional service revenue from consumers they would not see normally. The company admits the number of consumers buying online is very small. Still, the online platform ‘shows growth potential,’ says Andy Traicoff, vice president of consumer sales and customer development. (For more information, check out “Goodyear will sell tyres at Goodyear.com.”)
Low-cost radials are being produced in the U.S. The timing of the re-re-launch of the Kelly brand couldn’t be better. Tariffs ranging from 30% to 109% have been assigned to every consumer tire imported from China, and these are many of the same tyres the new Kelly Edge A/S and AT tyres will compete against in the economy tier. Also, the tyres are being manufactured in the U.S. As part of the launch, Goodyear will consolidate Kelly lines. For example, the Charger GT, Safari Signature and Explorer Plus will be eliminated.
The company really relies on Assurance. According to Goodyear, 2.6 million more Assurance tyres were shipped in the U.S. and Canada in 2014 than in 2013. The increase alone represents 1% of all the units it shipped. There are four Assurance lines: the Tripletred All-Season, Comfortred Touring, Fuel Max and the newest member of the family, the All-Season. Made available to dealers beginning last July, the Assurance All-Season will reach 1 million in sales faster than any other Goodyear tire ever, said Ryan Patterson, president of consumer tyres in the U.S. and Canada.
Goodyear is taking on Michelin. Goodyear wants to be the leader in fuel-efficient truck tyres. Why? Because the number one concern of long haul fleets across America is fuel costs. One company executive said Michelin is the target. The new Fuel Max LHS joins the Fuel Max LHD in the lineup. A Fuel Max trailer tire, the LHT, will be available in the fourth quarter, as will the RSA regional all-position tire. And for those of you who noticed, the move away from number nomenclature is not an accident. “We’re trying to simplify the naming process,” said Brian Buckham, general manager of commercial product, marketing and future innovation.
Rich Kramer thinks millennials are critical to Goodyear’s success. Kramer, the chairman, CEO and president of Goodyear, talked about millennials in his speech at the 2014 dealer conference. He also addressed Generation Y — and its $1 trillion in buying power — at this year’s event. “Make no mistake, our future is going to be shaped by these new millennials,” he said. “Consumers are no longer captive. Consumers are buying on their own terms. Consumers are in control.” Kramer said to win in this environment, Goodyear and Goodyear dealers “have to make the tire-buying process easier.” And selling tyres on goodyear.com helps proactively accomplish that goal: “All we’re doing is enhancing the shift to buying online.”