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SEPTEMBER 2011 • VOL. 92, NO. 9 • TEN DOLLARS • A BOBIT PUBLICATION

WHEEL WEIGHTS: NEW CHOICES

TOURING TIRES EVOLVE TO MEET DEMANDS

THE INDUSTRY’S LEADING PUBLICATION

The WOW Experience

Nick Mitsos Tire Dealer of the Ye Year

CEO and President Mountain View Tire and Service Inc.

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SEPTEMBER 2011 • VOL. 92, NO. 9 • TEN DOLLARS • A BOBIT PUBLICATION

WHEEL WEIGHTS: NEW CHOICES

TOURING TIRES EVOLVE TO MEET DEMANDS

THE INDUSTRY’S LEADING PUBLICATION

The WOW Experience

Nick Mitsos Tire Dealer of the Year

CEO and President Mountain View Tire and Service Inc.

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Quik-Link: 800-687-1557 ext. 20101

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The Industry’s Leading Publication September 2011, Volume 92, Number 9

Departments 4 Editorial Getting down to business

6 Online Traffic report: Here’s what’s popular on MTD ’s Web site

8 News/views Bridgestone CEO sees strong ag, OTR growth; Goodyear’s McClellan to head North American Tire, more

22 Ludwig Report Heavy dose of creativity is needed to increase business

36 TPMS

Cover feature 48 Everybody say, ‘WOW!’ In a perfect world, that’s what everyone who spends money at Mountain View Tire says about the experience. It’s also what Nick Mitsos said when we told him he was the 2011 Tire Dealer of the Year

Features 24 Wheel weights: new choices Lead-free legislation and lengthening service intervals keep the wheel weight industry in a state of transition

30 Shedding the lead The wheel weight industry adjusts to eco-friendliness

32 TPMS: the next generation As tire pressure monitoring systems evolve, universal sensors are on the rise

40 Balancing consumer, OE demands Tiremakers offer fuel efficiency and driving comfort in the growing touring tire segment

Toyota scan tool needed to register Camry IDs: Note transmitter ID when replacing Camry valve sub-assemblies

64 Business insight 5 ways to better manage your team: How to take charge and make sure your sales results don’t happen by accident

68 Counter intelligence What should you do when customer confidence is compromised? 10 pointers on how to prevent a meltdown

72 Focus on industry Educational forums at the forefront: ‘Green @ Noon’ track debuts at upcoming Global Tire Expo

80 Your turn Hall of Famer drives the Brickyard

74 Products 76 Quik-Link 77 Classified

Modern Tire Dealer is a proud member of:

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Editorial

Getting down to business

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s there any thing that separates a Tire Dealer of the Year from the average dealer? Just what is it that makes him or her so special? There are five categories on which each candidate is judged: business success, marketing skills, management skills, industry knowledge and community involvement. Each of our 19 By Bob Ulrich Tire Dealers of the Year have scored well in all the categories. However, business success encompasses the other four. If you are a good marketer and manager, if you understand the industry and embrace your community, you have a great chance to succeed. As editor of Modern Tire Dealer, I am very proud of producing our annual Tire Dealer of the Year issue. We have used it not only to pay tribute to great people over the years, but also to contribute — substantially, I might add — to a number of charities in their names. It is my favorite issue of the year. Nick Mitsos, founder and owner of Mountain View Tire & Service Inc. in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., is the latest independent tire dealer to join the MTD Tire Dealer of the Year family. While interviewing him for our story (it starts on page 48), I particularly was impressed by how he blends his business priorities with his family values. That got me to wondering what advice our other winners, all CEOs and/or presidents, have shared with you over the years. Their “tutorials” sounded eerily familiar. Going back 10 years to 2001, Larry Morgan, then running 558 Tires Plus stores from his home base in Clearwater, Fla., was very specific in his advice to tire dealers just starting out: “Be aligned with a winning marketing group, and have enough capital to hang on through the tough times.” He did as he said. Snider Tire Inc.’s John Snider, last year’s Tire Dealer of the Year, runs one of the largest commercial dealerships in the country. His advice also was simple and direct: “Find a niche that you have a passion for.” The biggest challenge in Ken Towery’s career prior to starting his Ken Towery’s AutoCare SuperCenters chain was to turn around three money-losing stores for the former Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. How did our 2008 Tire Dealer of the Year do it? By working hard, putting in long hours and, most importantly, changing the store personnel’s attitude. That included letting an assistant

manager go because he would not adapt to the new program. “Training is constant,” he added. Charlie Creighton of Colony Tire Corp. (2007) addressed a topic with which all dealers struggle: employee hiring and retention. He said there’s no magic formula, but found this four-step strategy to be successful: 1. high selectivity in hiring; 2. competitive wages and incentives; 3. a strong benefits package; and 4. recognition of employee achievements. “They want to be well-compensated, but they need more than that,” said John Marshall (2003) of Grismer Tire Co. “Opportunity for improvement, opportunity to participate in decision-making, and the feeling that they’re contributing for real” all play a part as well. How many of us have ever had trouble delegating job responsibilities? Bill Williams (2006) of Jack Williams Tire Co. passed along this telling story. “When I had three stores, I tried to run all three,” he said. “It was hard turning customers over to someone else. We now have stores that do three or four times the volume that we used to do, and I’ve never sold a tire in any of them.” As you might expect, our Tire Dealers of the Year keyed in on the basics. “Surround yourself with good people,” said Raben Tire Co.’s Tom Raben (2002). “Be honest, fair and have integrity,” said Ziegler Tire & Supply Co.’s Bill Ziegler (2009). “Develop a good work ethic and build trust with your customers,” said Purcell Tire & Rubber Co.’s Bob Purcell (who shared the award with his wife, Juanita, in 2004). When he was just starting out, Paul Zurcher (2005) of Zurcher Tire Inc. simply strived to exceed customer expectations. “We felt we weren’t in a position to advertise because we weren’t big enough,” he said. “But I wanted every customer to leave with a good feeling and their needs met.” To learn more about how any of our Tire Dealers of the Year do business, check out all their stories on our Web site, www.moderntiredealer.com. And while you are there, nominate someone you think would be a good candidate for our 20th (can you believe it?) award next year. As for Nick’s advice, you’ll just have to read the article for yourself. I’m sure you will learn a lot. ■ If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me at bob.ulrich@bobit.com.

‘Have enough capital to hang on through the tough times,’ said Morgan.

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Online

Traffic report Here’s what’s popular on MTD’s Web site Which news items got the most hits on our Web site W (w (www.moderntiredealer.com) for the period from July 20, 2011, through Aug. 20, 2011? Check it out: 1. Walmart stores save 1 million quarts of oil (July 24 This news item reported on how Walmart Tire and 24). Lube Express outlets are trying to revolutionize the Lu way they do oil changes. Under a new partnership with BP Lubricants L USA Inc., Wal-mart Stores Inc. is phasing in the th use of the innovative Castrol Enviro-Pack (e-Pack) and ee-Dispense system. Walmart says it has eliminated approximately one million quarts of oil waste at its 2,500 Tire proxi and Lube Express facilities in the United States. 2. Bridgestone CEO sees strong ag, OTR growth (August 17). Bridgestone Americas Inc.’s top executive, (Aug Gary G Garfield, reported that although consumer tire sales are slow, sales s of OE truck tires are going quite well. Garfield, CEO and a president of Bridgestone Americas, said that the company’s ag tire market is growing exponentially, especially in developing countries. (See more of this interview on page 8.) 3. Goodyear: a record $5.6 billion in quarterly sales (July 28). Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.’s sales for the second quarter of 2011 were a Goodyear record for any quarter. The tiremaker recorded net income of $47 million on net sales of $5.6 billion for its second quarter ended June 30, 2011. Richard Kramer, chairman, CEO and president, said “North American Tire’s second quarter results show the type of performance we should be able to sustain once we reach our 2013 targets.” Secondquarter sales also reflect strong price/mix improvements, according to Goodyear. The improvements drove revenue per tire up 18% over 2Q 2010. 4. Wholesalers: 52% say tire unit sales were up ( July 31). This news item reported on Modern Tire Dealer’s exclusive “State-of-the-Industry Survey” for the first six months of 2011. Among other data, it found that more than 50% of the wholesalers in the United States were up in unit sales in the first half compared to the first half of 2010. 5. 51,000 Negotiator LT tires are recalled (July 20). Modern Tire Dealer editors reported that ITR USA Inc. is recalling certain Negotiator Commercial H/T tires produced by China-based Shandong Yongtai Chemical Group Co. Ltd. from April 2009 through May 2011. The potential number of units affected is 51,003. The recall is due to blistering or bubbles on the tire’s sidewall. View these news items and much more at www.moderntiredealer.com. And be sure to leave us your comments!

Total access — totally free www.moderntiredealer.com

3515 Massillon Road, Suite 350 Uniontown, Ohio 44685 (330) 899-2200, fax (330) 899-2209 Web site http://www.moderntiredealer.com Editor: ROBERT J. ULRICH Bob.Ulrich@bobit.com Managing Editor: LORI L. MAVRIGIAN Lori.Mavrigian@bobit.com Senior Editor: BOB BISSLER Bob.Bissler@bobit.com Contributors: Auto Service/Technical: MIKE MAVRIGIAN Training/Tire Service: KEVIN ROHLWING Industry Analyst: SAUL LUDWIG Art Director: NEAL WEINGART Neal.Weingart@bobit.com Production Manager: KAREN RUNION Karen.Runion@bobit.com Publisher: GREG SMITH Greg.Smith@bobit.com South and Texas: GREG SMITH Greg.Smith@bobit.com (330) 899-2200, fax (330) 899-2209 Midwest: MICHELE VARGO Michele.Vargo@bobit.com (330) 899-2200, fax (330) 899-2209 West Coast: JOHN DYAL The Dyal Company John.Dyal@bobit.com (760) 451-5026, fax (760) 451-5039 West Coast: MARIANNE DYAL The Dyal Company Marianne.Dyal@bobit.com (760) 451-9216, fax (760) 451-9292 Automotive Aftermarket: DAN THORNTON djtinc@gmail.com (734) 676-9135, mobile (313) 410-0945 fax (734) 675-6744 Classified Sales: DONNA STEWART Donna_Stewart@cox.net (405) 513-6794, fax (360) 406-7576 Reprint Sales: KAREN RUNION Karen.Runion@bobit.com (330) 899-2200, fax (330) 899-2209 Customer/Subscription Service: (888) 239-2455, fax (888) 274-4580

Modern Tire Dealer is a Bobit Publication Executive offices: 3520 Challenger St. Torrance, CA 90503 Chairman: Edward J. Bobit CEO & President: Ty F. Bobit Chief Financial Officer: Richard E. Johnson

MODERN TIRE DEALER (ISSN 00268496) (CDN IPM #40013413) (USPS #369-170) is published monthly by Bobit Business Media, 3520 Challenger St., Torrance, California 90503-1640. Periodicals postage paid at Torrance, CA 90503-9998 and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to MODERN TIRE DEALER, P.O. Box 1068, Skokie, IL 60076-8068. Please allow 6 to 8 weeks for address changes to take effect. Subscriptions in the U.S. and its possessions, $65; Canadian, $99; Int’l surface mail, $99; Int’l airmail, $198. Single copies, $10, except the January Facts Issue, $30. Address all subscription correspondence to MODERN TIRE DEALER, P.O. Box 1068, Skokie, IL 60076-8068. Please allow 6 to 8 weeks to receive your first issue. Please address Editorial and Advertising correspondence to MODERN TIRE DEALER, 3515 Massillon Road, Suite 350, Uniontown, OH 44685-6217. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced either in whole or in part without consent of Bobit Business Media. All statements made, although based on information believed to be reliable and accurate, cannot be guaranteed and no fault or liability can be accepted for error or omission. For your information: We sometimes make our subscriber information (i.e. fax, e-mail or mailing address) available to carefully screened organizations whose products and services may be of interest to you. If you prefer not to have your information made available, please write MODERN TIRE DEALER, P.O. Box 1068, Skokie, IL 60076-8068.

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News/views

Bridgestone CEO sees strong ag, OTR growth Overall outlook is positive; Dayton brand is weakening By Bob Bissler

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ridgestone Americas Inc.’s top executive, Gary Garfield, said consumer tire sales are slow. But, he added, sales of OE truck tires are going quite well. “It’s a different situation depending upon which part of the market you’re talking about,” said Garfield, CEO and president of Bridgestone Americas. Garfield discussed the latest Bridgestone news at a press conference at the Bridgestone Invitational golf tournament in Akron, Ohio. “Our inventory levels have picked up over the last two years. Fill rates on passenger tires have improved over the last several months.” Garfield said the company’s business in Japan has been impacted by the March earthquake and tsunami. “Business in Japan has been hurt,” Garfield explained. “As Japan ramps up its repairing and rebuilding efforts, that will help its GDP. It will take a couple years to recover.” While the market in Japan is challenged, Garfield said the OE truck tire market is up 55-60% over last year. “Replacement truck tire sales, industry-wide, are up maybe in the high single digits,” he said. “Part of that is pent-up demand for trucks. No one was buying trucks during the recession. Company fleets have started to buy trucks. That demand is way up, which in turn increases OE demand.” Garfield said that the company’s ag tire market is growing exponentially, especially in developing countries. He added that mining is very strong right now, also particularly in

developing countries. He has ideas as to why the Bridgestone CEO/President market isn’t very strong Gary Garfield is optimistic about the company’s here in the U.S. “ D y s f u n c t i o n i n ag/OTR segment, due to demand in developing Congress is keeping the countries. economy sluggish,” he explained. Bridgestone competes in the global economy by increasing brand awareness, and taking advantage of sports marketing has helped. Garfield said that since the company got involved in sports marketing five years ago, he has seen double digit improvements in Bridgestone brand awareness and intent to buy. That additional brand awareness comes at a good time. Bridgestone’s Dayton brand has seen some decline recently. “The Dayton brand has been reduced the last couple of years,” Garfield revealed. “It’s been hit by inexpensive imports.” Bridgestone discontinued Dayton brand medium truck radials last year. But for now, the brand will not be phased out. “We still see some value in Dayton, but not much,” he said. Garfield said the big issue in the U.S. is housing. Unemployment numbers aren’t likely to improve without the housing market picking up. However, housing won’t pick up without unemployment going down. “What we are about is being the best,” he said. “We’ve got to be financially successful. Every great company is financially successful.” ■

Aiken expansion: a good move for Bridgestone, says Garfield Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations LLC’s (BATO’s) Aiken County, S.C., plant will begin producing an additional 4,750 passenger and light truck tires per day beginning in the second quarter of 2013. The $135 million investment will create 122 full-time and contractor positions and expand the facility by 266,000 square feet in the main plant and mixing areas. “The Aiken expansion is a good move for us,” said Gary Garfield, CEO and president of Bridgestone Americas. “It allows us to produce here and not get hurt with the exchange issue.”

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Site preparation and construction will begin in the fourth quarter of 2011, and the manufacturing equipment will be installed in the third quarter of 2012. Construction is expected to be complete by the first quarter of 2013 with production commencing early in the second quarter of the same year. The Aiken County facility, which began operations in 1998, earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2009. LEED is awarded internationally to buildings for excellent energy and water efficiency,

indoor environmental quality and resource stewardship. The Aiken County facility also has been recognized as an Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star site. VPP status is awarded to companies that have excellent safety and health management systems and injury rates that are below the industry’s national average. The Aiken County plant is one of only three tire plants in the country to receive the honor; the other two are BATO’s Warren County, Tenn., plant and the Bloomington, Ill., plant.

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News/views Goodyear names McClellan to head North American Tire business unit The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. has named Stephen McClellan president of the company’s North American Tire business unit. McClellan will succeed Curt Andersson, who plans to pursue other professional interests. He had been named president of the unit in February 2010. McClellan, who joined Goodyear in 1988, has served as president of the North American Tire consumer business since August 2008. Prior to that he served as vice president of Commercial Tire Systems. He will continue to be responsible for North American Tire’s consumer tire business until a successor is named. “Performance in the first half of 2011 demonstrates strong momentum in our North American business,” says Richard Kramer, Goodyear’s chairman, president and CEO. “Under Steve’s leadership, we will continue to drive results over coming quarters and stay on the path toward our targeted $450 million of segment operating income in 2013.” Kramer acknowledged Andersson’s contributions to Goodyear’s success in its North American business. “During Curt’s tenure, we have continued our progress toward returning North American Tire to sustainable profitability.”

Nitto gets most Facebook ‘Likes’ Recently, Modern Tire Dealer reported that Nitto Tire U.S.A. Inc. topped the tire industry in the number of people who clicked the “Like” button on its Facebook 278,614 page. According to the Nitto 1. Nitto: 198,148 advertising agency, Cie Studios, 2. Falken: 188,930 this important measure of success 3. Bridgestone: 4. BFGoodrich: 39,341 is a sign of customer loyalty. 37,497 Edward Yu, president of Cie 5. Cooper: Studios, attributed the site’s 6. Continental: 20,463 popularity to hard work. “We 7. Michelin (guides): 16,981 spend a lot of time with our cli- 8. Big O: 12,782 ents on generating compelling 9. Goodyear (blimp): 11,297 user content and engagement,” he 10. Yokohama: 10,622 says. “So in Nitto’s case, we help 11. General: 9,428 them engage with their enthusiast 12. Firestone: 8,819 customers/fans through videos, 13. Pirelli: 6,030 photos, news stories, giveaways 14. Hankook: 4,885 and contests, and general ‘con15. Dunlop: 4,856 versation’ with their fans.” 4,576 So, how do the other tire 16. Toyo: 2,112 companies rank in terms of be- 17. Nexen: 1,861 ing “Liked” on their Facebook 18. Kumho: 829 pages? Using MTD’s domestic 19. Uniroyal: 7 replacement tire brand share list 20. Sumitomo: 5 from the 2011 MTD Facts Issue 21. Hercules: as a guide, and trying as much as 22. Multi-Mile: 4 possible to compare the Web sites 23. Cordovan: 3 on an apples-to-apples basis, we 24. Mastercraft: 3 have compiled this listing. 25. Kelly: 2

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News/views

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Love’s opens new Okla. store Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores has opened a new travel stop in Pauls Valley, Okla. There is a truck tire care center at the location, offering tire services and minor repairs. The new location features 77 truck spaces, eight gasoline fuel islands, eight truck diesel islands and two diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) dispensers to reduce emissions. The grand opening event included a parade caravan. Cooper rebate promo returns Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.’s “Take the Money & Ride” national rebate promotion runs now through Nov. 7, 2011. Consumers are eligible to receive up to a $75 Visa pre-paid rebate card when purchasing a new set of four qualifying Cooper tires. Tires must be purchased through participating dealers in the United States and most of Canada, the company says. Kenda Taiwan: 5,000 tires daily Kenda Rubber Ind. Co. has begun tire production in its new factory in Yuan-Lin, Taiwan. At full capacity, the new plant is slated to produce 5,000 units daily. Kenda says daily radial production for all its passenger radial factories will reach 30,000 units by the end of 2011, 50% more than the current capacity. By 2013, Kenda plans to produce 16 million radial tires annually among all its factories. 1st Women’s Board Summit The Car Care Council’s Women’s Board is conducting the inaugural Aftermarket Women’s Business Summit Nov. 1-3, 2011. The event takes place in Las Vegas, Nev., during the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX). For complete information on the summit, visit www.carcare.org/womens_board. Trax Tires grows in Alabama Mobile, Ala.-based Trax Tires opened its ninth location last month in Semmes, Ala. ASE-certified technicians at Trax Tires perform technical repairs and diagnostics and routine maintenance. Trax Tires is a Tire Pros Five Diamond Dealer, a part of the American Car Care Centers Family.

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More China Bridgestone radials The Bridgestone Group is going green in China. The tiremaker says it plans to expand the production capacity of eco-friendly tires, such as Ecopia brand tires, at its Tianjin, China, plant. Bridgestone Corp. says the increase in production capacity at the Bridgestone Tianjin Tire Co. Ltd. (Tianjin plant) is necessary to meet the demand for tires in China. The radial passenger tire segment is expected to grow in the medium- to long-term in the country. The Tianjin plant is expected to begin production at its increased capacity in July 2012. The Tianjin plant will make a total investment of 1,054 million yuan ($163 million). That will boost the plant’s production capacity The Bridgestone Group says it plans to expand the production by 8,800 tires daily, enabling it to produce a total of 25,300 tires per day. capacity of eco-friendly tires, such as Ecopia brand tires, at In addition to the expansion of its ecoits Tianjin, China, plant. friendly tires, the Bridgestone Group says it plans to start the local production of winter tires in its Chinese tire plant, as well. At the same time, the group is developing systems to enhance its “speed to market.” The company says that will improve its ability to quickly meet the product needs of its customers in the Chinese market.

‘Pee Wee’ Rhodes, Plaza Tire Service founder, dies at age 76 Vernon Elwin “Pee Wee” Rhodes, 76, founder of Plaza Tire Service in Cape Girardeau, Mo., died July 29, 2011. He was born in Barnhart, Mo., in 1935. In the early 1960s, Rhodes and his brother, Pete, along with their families, moved to Cape Girardeau, Mo., and opened three Gulf service stations. They expanded into the tire business by purchasing a retread business which included a new 1964 truck with tire racks that was painted “Plaza Green.” Plaza Tire Service has had over 500 Plaza Green trucks since then. Today, Plaza Tire is one of the country’s largest tire retailers with 49 stores in four states. It is number 21 on the MTD 100 list, and has a total of 350 employees.

Belle Tire opens new Michigan store Belle Tire’s newest location has opened for business in South Lyon, Mich. The new tire store, led by manager Dan Garbarz, features a staff of ASEcertified auto technicians. Belle Tire says the store offers low prices on tires, custom wheels, align- Belle Tire’s South Lyon, Mich., store. ments, brakes, batteries, oil changes, shocks and struts, and windshield repair and replacement. Garbarz has 30 years of experience in the tire industry. He was previously manager at the company’s Novi, Mich., store. Construction of the next Belle Tire store in Gaines Township, Mich., began in July. The additions will bring Belle Tire’s total to 87 stores with 1,700 employees.

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WECnology adds scheduler WECnology LLC has added MyAutoServiceAppointments.com, a “cloud-based” appointment scheduler, to its list of WECnologists. WECnology matches tire and auto service dealers with technology providers. The Web-based booking system provides an appointment scheduling package that allows dealers’ customers to schedule their own appointments over the Internet. The product runs in the cloud, and setup and training are minimal, WECnology says. Toyo Proxes A20 OE on Prius Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp.’s all-season Proxes A20 has been selected as original equipment on the 2012 Toyota Prius v hybrid. The latest Prius represents a new evolution in hybrid vehicles with excellent cargo space now rivaling small SUVs, Toyo notes. The eco-friendly Proxes A20 features a low-rolling resistance design for reduced fuel consumption, while also providing strong dry and wet braking for overall safety. JMK unites dealers, customers JMK Computerized Tire Dealer Information System Inc. offers a free smartphone app called J-Match. The new app uses 2d “Quick Read” bar code technology. As part of the J-Match app, the classic “oil sticker” attached to the vehicle’s windshield contains a registered 2d “Quick Read” bar code. Users can then use their smartphones to scan that code to: see a listing of past service; make an appointment for future service; get advice of when future service is needed; and call the dealership directly. Atlantic Tire earns awards The “best place for automotive repair” in western Wake County in North Carolina is Atlantic Tire & Service, according to readers of “The Cary News.” It is the third time Atlantic Tire has finished first in the Cary, N.C., newspaper’s annual “Best of” poll, which is based entirely on the submissions of readers. The Cary Chamber of Commerce awarded Atlantic Tire the Employer of the Year award in 2010 for the company’s “exemplary work environment for employees.”

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China tiremaker Triangle sets up shop in Akron Triangle Group, the largest tire manufacturer in China, has a new home in Akron, Ohio. Along with new research company A3T LLC, the tiremaker will partner with The University of Akron (UA) and the UA Research Foundation (UARF) on rubber research, technology development and licensing. Yuhua Ding, chairman of Triangle Group, Weihai, China, signed an agreement with UA officials to engage in research collaborations with UA and UARF. The signing of the agreement was attended by representatives of Triangle Group, the City of Weihai and the City of Akron. A ceremony was held in the Goodyear Polymer Center on the campus of UA. Visiting scientists with the Triangle Group will conduct joint research at the National Polymer Innovation Center with UA College of Polymer Science/Engineering faculty members. These activities will be coordinated through Akron-based A3T.

TBC Retail Group supports cancer research TBC Retail Group recently sent drivers of the Service Central race teams to the Children’s Hospital Colorado Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, Denver, Colo. The event was in support of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), a charity that raises money to find a cancer cure. Drivers Johnny Gray, Shane Gray and Dom Lagana visited sick children at the hospital, delivered gifts and signed autographs. “Visiting the children’s hospital was as much for us as it was for the children,” said Orland Wolford, president and CEO of TBC Retail Group. “We are fundraising to fight cancer. We are fundraising so children don’t have to Cancer patient Dane, age 11, viswrite their bucket lists.” its with (L to R) Shane Gray, Dom Wolford urges continued donations Lagana and Johnny Gray. via the text-to-donate campaign. To donate $5, text CANCER TBC to 85944 or visit www.alexslemonade.org. Headquartered in Juno Beach, Fla., TBC Retail Group Inc., a subsidiary of TBC Corp., operates more than 800 tire and automotive service centers under the brands Tire Kingdom, NTB – National Tire and Battery, Merchant’s Tire and Auto Center, and Big O Tires.

DSP launches new tire dealer 20 group Dealer Strategic Planning Inc. (DSP) has added a new tire retailer 20 group that held its first meeting in August 2011. This group will be composed of 20 tire retailers from non-competing markets in the U.S. and Canada. “I am looking forward to welcoming my new peer group to my business,” says meeting host Ed Mitchem, a Springfield, Mo., dealer with four stores. “As independent tire dealers and business owners, we all face the same challenges and opportunities, so it will be very helpful to learn from the experience of other successful dealers.” The goal of DSP 20 groups is to help dealers increase bottom line profits by peer learning, sharing best practices, financial benchmarking and having access to industry experts. Each month the dealers receive a financial analysis which helps them track their performance against the group and industry benchmarks. The 20 groups meet three times a year for two and one-half days of intense business discussions. The financial analysis and guidance is provided by Norm Gaither, a consultant in the automotive aftermarket. DSP says Gaither has been successfully improving dealers’ financial strength for 25 years. “In today’s distressed economy, dealers need every edge they can get to help with their bottom line,” says Gaither. “We have many dealers reaching our goal of greater than 10% net profit and most outpace the industry norm of 3% net profit.” For more information visit www.dsp-20group.com. Quik-Link: 800-687-1557 ext. 20108

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R S AV I N G

20

Price per gallon Savings over the life of the tires Gallons saved Dollars saved **

WARRANTY

$3.50 128 $448.46

*

UTQG:

TREAD:

TRACTION:

TEMPERATURE:

S & T SPEED H SPEED

740 680

A A

B A

7 0 0 0 0

r t L

MILE LIMITED TREADWEAR

WARRANTY

*

2,500 miles based on 3.8% fuel efficiency improvement with 70,000 mile treadlife limited warranty. 26.6% rolling resistance difference based on independent rolling resistance testing; Continental CrossContact LX20 265/70R17 115T compared to Pirelli® Scorpion™ STR A P265/70R17 113H and 3.8% fuel savings based on rolling resistance to fuel efficiency ratio within the estimated range of fueleconomy.gov, a NHTSA sponsored web publication. **Actual savings vary based on driving techniques, road conditions, tire maintenance and replacement interval.

MTD_gatefold_Sept.indd 2

60 DAY 72 MONTH 12 MONTH

Customer Satisfaction Ride Guarantee Limited Warranty with Free Replacement

9/8/11 9:37:24 AM


TECHNICAL BENEFITS

EFFICIEN EL

CY

FU

Tg-F Polymers: Temperature activated functional polymers that increase compound bonding thus improving treadwear and fuel efficiency. +Silane additives enhance grip on slippery roads, therefore reducing stopping distances.

THE ALL-SEASON TIRE DESIGNED TO SAVE YOU MONEY PLUS MORE

UCED CO ED

THE ALL-SEASON TIRE DESIGNED TO HELP SAVE THE PLANET PLUS MORE

2

R

When Continental Tire’s engineers and chemists embarked on creating the CrossContactTM LX20, they focused on saving fuel over the life of the tire. The result is a tire that can save up to 2,500 miles of  fuel when compared to a leading competitor’s standard tire.*

2

CO

A MILE GE

Every gallon of gasoline saved not only reduces fuel costs for the consumer but also helps to reduce our nation’s dependence on oil. In addition to reducing costs, each gallon of gas saved also means up to 20 fewer pounds of toxic CO2 emissions released into the Earth’s atmosphere making the CrossContactTM LX20 a smart buying decision.

THE ALL-SEASON TIRE DESIGNED TO LAST LONGER PLUS MORE Premium features designed to enhance vehicle performance are not the only plus for this tire. The CrossContactTM LX20 provides a high mileage warranty with a 70,000 mile limited treadwear warranty.

BRAKIN ET

G

W

ALL OF THAT PLUS... AL THE ALL-SEASON TIRE DESIGNED TO PROVIDE EXCELLENT WET BRAKING PLUS MORE An emergency stop on a wet, slippery road can be a frightening experience. Tires are the only contact to the road during these adverse road conditions. When compared to a leading competitor, the CrossContactTM LX20 stops up to 34 feet shorter. ***

* 2,500 miles based on 3.8% 3. fuel efficiency improvement with 70,000 mile treadlife limited warranty. 26.6% rolling resistance difference based on independent rolling resistance testing; Continental Con ontine CrossContact™ LX20 265/70R17 115T compared to Pirelli® Scorpion™ STR A P265/70R17 113H and 3.8% fuel savings based on rolling resistance to fuel efficiency ratio within the estimated range of fueleconomy.gov, a NHTSA sponsored web publication. ***Independent braking test compared Continental CrossContact™ LX20 265/70R17 115T to Pirelli® Scorpion™ STRA P265/70R17 113H.

PROGRAMS & RESOURCES

CTAMEDIA.COM

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TECHNICAL BENEFITS

t

t t t

Biting edges in the grooves of the tire give increased snow grip when drivers need it most.

Crisp Handling Response Smooth, Comfortable Ride Reduced Road Noise

Why carry Continental? t t t t t t

140 Years of tire building expertise Award winning products Cutting edge promotions & marketing support 65% of Continental product lines are 3 years or newer Focused on fuel efficiency technology worldwide OE on many of the finest automobiles

t Only premium line to provide road hazard coverage t Innovative online training through ENGAGE360 t Real Performance Motivation (RPM)... the fastest way to the best rewards t GOLD dealer program...Great Opportunities for Leading Dealers

Why carry CrossContactTM LX20 t t t

36 popular sizes Exceptional wet braking capabilities New technology

t t t

Better for the planet Profitability Competitive pricing

TO PLACE AN ORDER, FIND A DISTRIBUTOR, OR BECOME A DEALER CALL: 1-800-270-3545 -or- VISIT: WWW.CONTINENTALTIRE.COM

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TIRE SIZES

SAMPLE VEHICLE FITMENTS

MAKE

MODEL

Acura

MDX, ZDX

Audi BMW Cadillac Chevrolet Dodge Ford Honda Jeep Lexus Lincoln Mazda Mercedes Nissan Porsche Toyota

MTD_gatefold_Sept.indd 5

SIZE

LOAD / SPEED INDEX

LOAD RANGE

SIDEWALL

OVERALL TIRE / WHEEL DIAMETER (IN.)

OVERALL SECTION WIDTH (MEASURING RIM) (IN.)

APPROVED RIM WIDTHS (IN.)

235/75R16 245/75R16 265/75R16 215/70R16 225/70R16

108S 111S 116T 100S 103S

SL SL SL SL SL

OWL OWL OWL OWL OWL

29.9 30.5 31.6 27.9 28.4

9.3 (6.5) 9.8 (7.0) 10.5 (7.5) 8.7 (6.5) 9.0 (6.5)

6.0 - 8.0 6.5 - 8.0 7.0 - 9.0 5.0 - 7.0 6.0 - 7.5

235/70R16

106T

SL

OWL

29.0

9.4 (7.0)

6.0 - 8.0

245/70R16 265/70R16 235/65R16 255/65R16 245/70R17 265/70R17 265/70R17 225/65R17 235/65R17 235/65R17 245/65R17 255/65R17 265/65R17 265/65R17 275/60R17 255/70R18 265/70R18 235/65R18 255/65R18 265/65R18 275/65R18 235/60R18 245/60R18 265/60R18 275/60R18 255/55R18 255/50R19 275/60R20 275/55R20 285/50R20

107S 112S 103T 109S 110S 115T 115T 102T 108H 108T 107T 110S 112T 112T 110S 113T 116S 106T 111S 114S 116T 107H 105T 110T 113H 109H 107H 115S 117S 112H

SL SL SL SL SL SL SL SL XL XL SL SL SL SL SL SL SL SL SL SL SL XL SL SL SL XL XL SL XL SL

OWL OWL BSW OWL OWL OWL BSW BSW BSW OWL OWL OWL OWL BSW OWL OWL BSW BSW BSW OWL OWL BSW BSW OWL BSW BSW BSW OWL BSW BSW

29.5 30.6 28.0 29.1 30.5 31.6 31.6 28.5 29.0 29.0 29.5 30.1 30.6 30.6 30.0 32.1 32.6 30.0 30.1 31.5 32.1 29.1 29.6 30.5 31.0 29.0 29.0 33.0 31.9 31.2

9.8 (7.0) 10.7 (8.0) 9.4 (7.0) 10.2 (7.5) 9.8 (7.0) 10.7 (8.0) 10.7 (8.0) 9.0 (6.5) 9.4 (7.0) 9.4 (7.0) 9.8 (7.0) 10.2 (7.5) 10.7 (8.0) 10.7 (8.0) 11.0 (8.0) 10.2 (7.5) 10.7 (8.0) 9.4 (7.0) 10.2 (7.5) 10.7 (8.0) 10.9 (8.0) 9.4 (7.0) 9.8 (7.0) 10.7 (8.0) 11.0 (8.0) 10.4 (8.0) 10.4 (8.0) 11.0 (8.0) 11.2 (8.5) 11.7 (9.0)

6.0 - 8.0 7.0 - 9.0 6.5 - 7.5 7.0 - 9.0 6.5 - 8.0 7.0 - 9.0 7.0 - 9.0 6.0 - 8.0 6.5 - 8.5 6.5 - 8.5 7.0 - 8.5 7.0 - 9.0 7.5 - 9.5 7.5 - 9.5 7.5 - 9.5 6.5 - 8.5 7.0 - 9.0 6.5 - 8.5 7.0 - 9.0 7.5 - 9.5 7.5 - 9.5 6.5 - 8.5 7.0 - 8.5 7.5 - 9.5 7.5 - 9.5 7.0 - 9.0 7.0 - 9.0 7.5 - 9.5 7.0 - 9.5 8.0 - 10.0

Q5, Q7 X5, X6 SRX, Escalade Traverse, Trailblazer, Colorado, Avalanche, Silverado, Suburban, Tahoe, Equinox Ram Pickup, Ram 1500 Pickup, Dakota, Nitro, Journey, Grand Caravan Explorer, Escape, Edge, Expedition, Flex, F-150, Ranger CR-V, Ridgeline, Element, Pilot, Accord Crosstour Grand Cherokee, Liberty, Commander, Wrangler RX330, RX350, RX400, LX470, GX470 MKX, Navigator CX-7, CX-9, Tribute ML230, ML350, ML500, R320, R350, R500 Murano, Pathfinder, Xterra, Armada, Titan, Frontier Cayenne Tacoma, 4Runner, Tundra, Highlander, RAV4, Land Cruiser, FJ Cruiser

9/8/11 9:40:20 AM


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9/8/11 9:40:36 AM


News/views October is Fall Car Care Month The Car Care Council wants the auto service industry to help this October. That’s when auto repair businesses can participate in Fall Car Care Month (FCCM). FCCM is different from National Car Care Month in April. In October, customers are reminded to have a post-summer, pre-winter checkup on their vehicles. There are several ways to get involved: • E-mail current customers a reminder that October is Fall Car Care Month; • Display “October is Fall Car Care Month” posters in highly visible places; • Include FCCM Web banners on your Web site; • Order brochures on preventive maintenance for customers; • Visit www.carcareindustry.com for other ideas on getting involved.

DOE awards Cooper $1.5 million The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has awarded Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. $1.5 million. The grant is for the development of advanced fuel efficiency technologies during the next three years. The grant was one of only five awarded by the DOE in the Fleet Efficiency category. The category calls for the development of an ultra-lightweight tire that delivers a minimum of 3% improvement in vehicle fuel efficiency. “We are excited about the opportunity to further accelerate our development of innovative technologies that brings significant improvements in fuel efficiency to the market while increasing overall customer value,” says Chuck Yurkovich, Cooper’s vice president of global technology. “This is an important step in the effort to reduce our national energy dependence on foreign sources of oil and raw materials.” Cooper says it will use this funding to accelerate the development and refinement of innovative tire designs, constructions, materials and reinforcement technologies focused on the replacement tire market. The grant will allow the company to further enhance its technical capabilities and product offerings. Cooper will partner with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). NREL researches and develops renewable energy and energy efficiency. Development of this new technology will be carried out in Cooper’s Findlay, Ohio-based technical center, and plants in the United States.

Museum exhibits Yokohama’s orange oil tire Yokohama Tire Corp.’s BluEarth-1 tire is now part of an exhibit at the Museum of Science, Boston, Mass. The company’s orange oil-infused passenger car tire features breakthrough eco technology. The special two-year exhibit is titled “Making a Greener Tire.” The display will be in the museum’s Transportation, Renewable Energy and Nanotechnology area. Information in the exhibit will revolve around the BluEarth-1’s technology, which combines oil extracted from orange peels with silica and natural rubber to form “Super Nano-Power Rubber” (SNPR). This technology was initially utilized in Yokohama’s dB Super E-spec tire. SNPR allows for less petroleum to be used in the manufacturing process and conserves fuel as it reduces rolling resistance by up to 20%. Yokohama says it is the first – and only – tire manufacturer to employ orange oil technology. The BluEarth-1, available now in Japan and Europe, will launch in the U.S. in 2012 in three sizes for hybrids and other vehicles, including the Toyota Prius, Mini Cooper, and VW Golf and Jetta. ■

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bites

TIA names HOF inductees The Tire Industry Association (TIA) has announced the recipients of the 2011 Tire Industry Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame inductions are a part of TIA’s Tire Industry Honors event Oct. 31, 2011, in Las Vegas, Nev. The recipients are: Bill Fountain, founder of Fountain Tire; John Gamauf, president, Consumer Replacement Tire (retired) of Bridgestone North American Tire; Onkar Kanwar, chairman, Apollo Tyres Ltd.; and Ralph “Buddy” Snow, vice president and counsel (retired) for Oliver Rubber. Admission to Tire Industry Honors is complimentary; however, an RSVP is required. Visit the “Events” section at www.tireindustry.org, or call (800) 876-8372, ext. 104. New Double Coin Web site Double Coin Holdings Ltd. and the China Manufacturers Alliance LLC (CMA) have launched Double Coin’s redesigned Web site at: www.doublecoin-us.com. The new site’s enhanced features include: a wider viewing area; all new tire images; and a resource center for downloadable information and reference. Users are now able to navigate through a multitude of products and specs. Double Coin’s network of more than 1,000 independent tire dealerships and truck stop locations are easily searchable using the latest Google Maps technology and application. Wholesale Tire expands Wholesale Tire Distributors, based in Vaughn, Ontario, Canada, has increased the size and scope of its operations. The company has acquired a distribution center in Hamilton, Ontario. The acquisition of the 50,000-square-foot warehouse will give Wholesale Tire a second distribution point in the busy Ontario market to service independent tire retailers and commercial customers. The warehouse will be supported by a full complement of distribution and sales staff. Wholesale Tire is one of the largest tire distributors in the Greater Toronto area. The Hamilton location augments the 56,000-square-foot Wholesale Tire Distributors center in Vaughn, Ontario.

21 9/6/11 4:20:49 PM


Ludwig Report

Heavy dose of creativity is needed to increase business

U

ncertain European economies, economic picture can be painted. New truck tire sales the U.S. debt crisis, Congrescontinue to show strength, however, as volumes were up sional gridlock, 9.2% unem4% while retreaded tire sales were up 5%. ployment and a slumping stock market are enough to explain why consumers are Price increases more than cost in July putting off big ticket purchases as long as In comparing the month of July 2011 with June 2011, possible. Add to that, a $1,000 bill for four average costs for size 215/60R16 major brand tires were up tires, alignment and a few other suggested 1% while selling prices were up 3%. The average cost for a repairs further shocks your customers. I 215/60R16 private brand tire was down 1% while selling just vacationed at the Chautauqua Instituprices were up roughly 3%. tion located in southwest New York (see www.ciweb.org). Chautauqua is a very By Saul Ludwig Passenger tire dealers believed pricing was aggressive unique place where lectures, concerts, In July 2011, 56% of truck tire dealers saw pricing as religion, entertainment, kid’s activities and sports abound. very firm, while 62% of passenger tire dealers viewed pricing There’s something for everybody. The lectures this week were as being aggressive as manufacturers attempt to sell down on creativity and innovation and they really resonated with me increasing inventories. as I thought about the challenges now facing tire dealers. What you may need is a heavy dose of creativity to help increase your Truck tire inventories remained too low business. I suggest holding business creativity sessions with The survey indicated that 54% of passenger tire dealers believed your entire team. Maybe it is renovations in your shops, maybe it’s clever bartering with other businesses or maybe it is new packages Dealers MAR APR MAY JUN(R) JUL(P) JUL(10) (bundling) of tires and services. Challenge your own team — you may be surprised with Passenger tire Will improve 60% 56% 45% 31% 23% 50% what they come up with.

How dealers view their near-term business

Monthly survey A number of independent tire dealers were surveyed concerning current business trends. Except for tire prices and costs, the results of the July 2011 survey are compared with those of July 2010.

Will worsen Will stay level

0% 40%

0% 44%

14% 41%

6% 63%

54% 23%

12% 38%

Truck tire Will improve Will worsen Will stay level

75% 0% 25%

80% 0% 20%

56% 5% 39%

62% 0% 38%

50% 10% 40%

43% 14% 43%

R-Revised

P-Preliminary

Passenger tire dealers lost confidence Roughly 54% of passenger tire dealers believe business will worsen over the next six months while 23% believe it will stay about the same and 23% believe business will improve. As for truck tire dealers surveyed, 50% see business improving while 40% see business remaining level. The other 10% of truck tire dealers expect business to worsen. Recent economic uncertainty is causing consumers to hold on to their money and delay tire purchases, which has dealers concerned about near-term demand.

Economic uncertainty weighs in on passenger tire sales On average, retail sales of new replacement passenger tires were down around 5% when compared with July 2010. Roughly 62% of passenger tire dealers reported flat or negative growth in sales. Economic uncertainty has replaced gas prices as the number one concern of dealers we surveyed. They reported that consumers are putting off tire purchases until a clearer

22 MTD_10-23.indd 22

inventories were in line with current business levels, while 31% viewed inventories as too high for current demand. The rest (15%) felt inventories were too low. The truck tire dealers we surveyed indicated inventories have slightly deteriorated, as 56% believed inventories were too low, compared to 46% in June, while 33% felt inventories were in line with current business levels. Some 11% felt inventories were too high,

Service revenues were flat, dealers reported Dealers who provide automotive service reported that 23% of revenues, on average, were generated by service during July. Dealers indicated that service business was flat in July vs. July 2010. ■ Analyst Saul Ludwig is a managing director with Northcoast Research Holdings LLC based in Cleveland, Ohio. He concentrates on the tire and chemical industries. He has been writing for Modern Tire Dealer since April 1975.

MTD September 2011 9/6/11 4:20:50 PM


Quik-Link: 800-687-1557 ext. 20109

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9/6/11 4:20:55 PM


Lead-free weights

Wheel weights: new choices Lead-free legislation and lengthening service intervals keep the wheel weight industry in a state of transition By Bob Bissler

W

hat started as a ban in the European Union has become a movement in the U.S. It is a movement away from lead. Lead-free wheel weights are sweeping the U.S. marketplace, and manufacturers and dealers are taking a new look at this often-overlooked part of tire maintenance and service. Using wheel weights to balance your customers’ wheels is important for a smoother ride. Other advantages include better gas mileage and more even tire wear. Traditionally, the industry has used lead wheel weights. Now that’s changing. California, Washington, Vermont, Maine, Illinois and New York have enacted laws that ban or limit the use of lead wheel weights. Four more states have wheel weight legislation that is pending. “The transition away from lead wheel weights started with a ban on them in the European Union, on July 1, 2005,” says Kevin Keefe, vice president of marketing for Hennessy Industries. “What happened was automobile manufacturers in the United States that sold vehicles in the EU had to figure out how they were going to deal with that issue. General Motors took the lead and decided they would change over 100%, for all vehicle production, to lead-free weights.” Keefe says a manufacturer’s alternative to a 100% changeover is to have two different platforms, one for lead and one for lead-free wheel weights. In the current economic times, that isn’t cost-effective. Switching away from lead wheel weights across the board will be the most profitable move in the long run. “After GM analyzed all the available substitutes they determined that from a long-term cost perspective and from ultimately an environmental perspective, that steel was the best choice,” says Keefe. “So we worked very closely with General Motors to develop the first steel wheel weight manufactured in the United States. In 2005 we started plant conversions.” Keefe says the large national chains with operations in states that enacted lead-free legislation had somewhat the same choice that GM had. They had to either convert in the states that require it and use lead in the other states, or make a change across the entire operation. That is what many large dealers and mass merchandisers have done. “Lead-free is growing consistently and every year we are producing fewer and fewer lead weights,” says Mark Aiken, vice president of sales and marketing, Plombco Inc. “Demand for lead is going down and what we’re seeing are

24 MTD_24-29.indd 24

markets that aren’t required to do it, actually choosing to do it. Some do it to be corporate citizens; some do it to get ahead of the game and not have to deal with this when it’s forced upon them.” Aiken believes that when there is a rule making and an implementation of lead-free wheel weights, it will be difficult to get anyone to take back lead weights. There will be no use for them, and inventories will have to be disposed of properly or recycled. “We’ve seen a huge trend of lead weight demand going down,” Aiken explains. “Lead weights will eventually be gone, but not until there is legislation.” Wheel weight manufacturers have more to worry about than just legislation. Another factor that has an impact on the wheel weight industry is the increasing length of service intervals for new vehicles. “New car manufacturers are putting more miles in between rotations and between rebalancing,” says Brian Hodge, marketing director, International Marketing Inc. (IMI). “Five years ago on my car it was rotate and rebalance every 6,000 miles. Now new cars can go 20,000 miles, or more, without rebalancing. They get rotated at 10,000, and then again at 20,000, but only rebalanced if the customer requests it.”

What weights are on the market? With shifting regulations and an evolving marketplace, wheel weight companies are challenged to keep up. The main manufacturers each have products that are unique. They have also found ways to be cost-efficient with materials that are more expensive than lead.

3M Wheel Weight System

The adhesive used to attach 3M wheel weights is designed to work on a variety of surfaces.

The 3M Wheel Weight System combines a lead-free wheel balancing material with 3M Acrylic Foam Tape adhesive. The product provides an all-in-one, securely attached wheel weight balancing system. The 3M Wheel

MTD September 2011 9/6/11 4:22:51 PM


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Visual management

Wheel weights

Lead-free solution

A ton of lead

Shedding the lead The wheel weight industry adjusts to eco-friendliness

O

By Bob Ulrich

ne facility in the world manufactures Bada wheel weights. Located in Bowling Green, Ky., the 100,000-square-foot facility produces steel and lead weights for the original equipment and replacement markets. The challenge in the plant has been to properly manage the steel vs. lead issue, according to Kevin Keefe, vice president of marketing for Hennessy Industries Inc., which is based in La Vergne, Tenn. Because lead is a highly toxic chemical targeted for reduction by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), vehicle manufacturers and many of the top tire dealers in the United States already have begun phasing out the use of lead wheel weights. Hennessy is following suit at the Bada plant. “We’ve seen the big bull rush to lead-free, and now it’s a trickle,” says Keefe. “It could take 20 more years to eliminate lead wheel

30 MTD_30-31.indd 30

weights completely, which is not good for the industry.” When that day comes, Hennessy and other wheel weight manufacturers will be able to concentrate on their alternative wheel weight materials. In Hennessy’s case, that’s steel, which represents about half of the Bowling Green plant’s production. Tim Presley, Hennessy’s vice president of operations, says its layout has changed dramatically since it first began producing lead wheel weights in 1975. In the early years of the plant, steel wheel weights represented a small portion of the production. Six years ago, the company started manufacturing steel weights in earnest. All inventory used to be on the floor; now it’s stored vertically, which frees up floor space. The plant is run based on the Japanese Kaizen philosophy of the five S’s: simplify, straighten, scrub, stabilize and sustain.

MTD September 2011 9/7/11 4:47:29 PM


t

These photos were taken during a recent visit to Hennessy’s Bada wheel weight plant in Bowling Green, Ky. Clockwise from upper left, page 30: Each lead bar weighs up to 65 pounds; Hennessy believes in the visual management approach to manufacturing wheel weights; thanks to a special adhesive tape, Bada steel tape weights remain a one-handed task for technicians. Clockwise from upper left, page 31: sustainability is difficult, says Vice President of Operations Tim Presley; wheel weights are shipped in brown (steel) and white (lead) boxes; the coating on the lead wheel weights gets cured; 50% of the wheel weights produced at the plant are steel.

The last one, which is defined as “achieving the discipline or habit of properly maintaining the correct ‘5S’ procedures,” is the hard one, according to Presley. Safety, quality, delivery and cost (both inventory and productivity) are part of the philosophy. The plant is automated when it needs to be. “We believe in visual management,” says Presley. This hands-on strategy gives the company flexibility to change with the industry, and make improvements more readily without having to move tons of equipment around. “We don’t want to build a monument that can’t be moved,” says Keefe. Efficiency, reducing production costs and reducing waste are high priorities, says Plant Manager Phil Bourassa. Only 10% of the steel used to make steel wheel weights ends up as waste.

www.moderntiredealer.com MTD_30-31.indd 31

“We’re trying to find ways to get to 0%. We don’t like waste.” Product is shipped based on weight. It takes Hennessy up to three days to prepare and ship an order weighing less than 25,000 pounds. All wheel weights are shipped by less-than-truckload freight. “You weigh out before you cube out,” says Keefe. Three states have banned the use of lead wheel weights: California, Washington and New York. Starting Jan. 1, 2012, Illinois will join them. State vehicles in Maine and Vermont are lead wheel weight-free. Hennessy is a charter member of the EPA’s National Lead Free Wheel Weight Initiative, along with the 3M Automotive Division, Perfect Equipment Inc. and Plombco Inc. Bridgestone Americas Inc. and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. also are members. ■

31 9/7/11 4:47:30 PM


TPMS trends

TPMS: the next generation As tire pressure monitoring systems evolve, universal sensors are on the rise By Mike Mavrigian and Bob Bissler

T

“There are two different sensor frequencies for domestic and import: 434 megahertz is the import (foreign makes that are sold in this country); and 315 megahertz are the domestic, GM and Ford,” says Luginbuhl. “It’s not 100% because there are some Nissans that are 315 megahertz.” There are several sources for OEM TPM systems: Schrader International, Borg Warner Beru Systems GmbH and Pacific Industrial Co. Ltd. Schrader systems are found on Ford, Chrysler, GM and Nissan/Infiniti applications. Pacific systems are found on certain Lexus vehicles, and Beru systems are used on Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, BMW, Audi/ VW and Land Rover models. The majority of OE TPMS sensors are stem-mounted. The primary reason involves diagnostic capabilities. If the sensor is band-mounted and deeper inside the wheel, it’s more difficult for the signal to pass to the diagnostic tool, whether the system uses an RF signal or a magnetic signal.

hey’re becoming a greater fact of life for tire dealers. Tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) have been required on all new vehicles under 10,000 pounds since 2007. But the technology was first required on 10% of vehicles in 2001. Now, some of those older sensors are reaching the end of their service life. “Battery life for the very early versions was 3-5 years, and now the later versions are 5-7 years,” says Gary Luginbuhl, training manager at Myers Tire Supply. “We really don’t know how long they’ll last yet because nothing’s been out there that long. The early ones are starting to fail, the ones that were out there in 2001-2002.” The pressure sensor transmitters (one transmitter mounted inside each wheel) monitor inflation data and send an FM radio signal to the system’s antenna and receiver, which then sends a digital signal to an electronic control unit (ECU). Today, the TPMS (where actual tire inflation pressure is monitored) is referred to as a direct system. The system is calibrated to alert the driver when one A standard snap-in valve (left) next or more tires have lost 20-25% of the to a TPMS valve, which has a beveled programmed inflation pressure. base at the bottom of the threads

Universal sensors to the rescue

“When you look at brake pads, starter motors, wiper blades, oil filters, exhaust systems and so on, the OEs never, ever standardized anything,” Luginbuhl and an air transfer stem. explains. “They did the same thing with The basic three TPMS. What they ended up doing was Three basic “styles” of TPMS sensor/transmitters are available: creating a gridlock of technology and service support for the banded, snap-in and clamp-on. Banded sensors are affixed to aftermarket dealers, our customers. The OEs went with multiple the inside of the wheel using both a positioning adhesive (peel sensor manufacturers, multiple signal protocols and numerous off ) and a large diameter worm-drive clamp (the wheel valve shapes and styles of sensors to react to the mandate.” is the standard valve style that has been in use for decades). Currently there are an estimated 75 versions of TPMS Both clamp-on and snap-in sensors feature the valve stem as sensors in OE use. As a result, it’s impossible (or at least an integral part of the sensor. A clamp-on sensor mounts via extremely impractical) for any shop to stock enough sensors the wheel’s valve hole and is secured with a mounting nut. It to accommodate all makes/models/years. is sealed with a separate grommet. The snap-in style features “The big issue for the tire dealer has been that there are a traditionally mounted rubber valve style. 75 of these on the market and they don’t know what kind It’s important to quickly identify a snap-in style sensor. The of vehicle is going to pull into their shop,” says Luginbuhl. valve stem caps are longer than a traditional stem cap, and “You’ve got a minimum of four each and these are $50 to (with the cap removed) you’ll notice a beveled brass surface $150 each, so for a dealer to stock 75 different types – it’s not at the base of the cap mating area. going to happen. The OEs took the good old universal rubber Banded TPMS sensors are still found on some Fords. Other snap-in tire valve that we all grew up with, that you can snap makes/models utilize clamp-on or snap-in sensor styles, where into any vehicle anywhere, and they made the tire valve into the valve is an integral part of the sensor. Another integral part a make-model-year specific device, just like a starter motor. of the sensor is the frequency in which it transmits. That’s what the dealers have to deal with now.”

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TPMS

Toyota scan tool needed to register Camry IDs Note transmitter ID when replacing Camry valve sub-assemblies SUBJECT VEHICLE: 2007-10 Toyota Camry. SENSOR IN TIRE? No, the TPMS sensors are mounted in the wheels. RESET PROCEDURE? Yes. Directions follow. SPECIAL TOOLS NEEDED? Yes, a hand-held tester.

sor and/or tire pressure monitor ECU are replaced, the sensor ID must be memorized by the tire pressure monitor ECU. If the tire pressure valve sub-assembly is going to be replaced, make a note of the seven-digit number (trans-

The tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) on the Toyota Camry model years 2007-10 is designed with a TPM valve sub-assembly. The sub-assembly contains a tire pressure sensor/transmitter installed in each tire/wheel assembly. The sensor measures the internal tire pressure and temperature. These measured values and transmitter IDs are transmitted to the tire pressure monitor receiver assembly on the body via radio waves. This data is then sent to the tire pressure monitor electronic control unit (ECU) from the tire pressure Figure 2 monitor receiver. To remove an old sen- mitter ID) before installation. It cannot be seen after the sor and install a new one, sensor is installed (see Figure 1). Whenever a new sensor is installed, it will need to be follow these steps. Demount the tire from registered in the tire pressure monitor ECU. the wheel using the tire changer manufacturer’s 1. When replacing a wheel or tire, tire pressure sensors instructions. must be set up in one of the following ways: NOTE: When a tire, a. Remove the sensor from the old wheel and install Figure 1 wheel, tire pressure sen- it in the new wheel. b. Keep the tire pressure sensor mounted in the wheel, and replace only the tire. c. Use a new wheel and sensor. 2. Remove the wheel. Next remove the cap and valve core, and release the air from the tire (see Figure 2). NOTE: Keep the removed cap, valve core, nut and washer for re-use. 3. After ensuring that air is sufficiently released, remove the nut and washer that is used to hold the tire pressure monitor valve sub-assembly and drop the sensor inside the tire. NOTE: Be careful not to damage the tire pressure monitor valve

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TPMS sub-assembly by allowing it to get between the tire bead and the wheel or shoe during demounting. 4. After dropping the tire pressure monitor valve subassembly into the tire, disengage the bead using the shoe of the tire remover. 5. Remove the tire bead on the upper side following the usual removal procedure. 6. Take out the sensor from the tire, and remove the bead on the lower side following the usual procedure. NOTE: Check that no cracks or damage are visible on the grommet. If so, replace the grommet together with the washer and nut. When disposing of the sensor, remove the battery and dispose of properly. 7. Remove the inner grommet from the tire pressure monitor valve sub-assembly, or retrieve from the wheel, if necessary.

Initialize, then register During initialization, the tire pressure monitor valve subassembly measures the inflation pressure of the tires, and registers the signals that are transmitted into the tire pressure monitor ECU at a frequency of one per minute. The initialization process is completed when the signals from the four tires have been received. The initialization process is cancelled if the ignition switch is turned to the OFF position prior to the completion of initialization. To restart initialization, the tire pressure warning reset switch must be pressed again. Figure 3

1. Set the tire pressure of all wheels to the pressure specified on the tire and loading information label. 2. With the vehicle parked in a safe place, connect the intelligent tester to the DLC3 and turn the ignition switch to the ON position. 3. Turn the intelligent tester ON and navigate to the TIREPRESS option using the on-screen prompts. 4. Within 30 seconds of turning the ignition ON, press and hold the tire pressure warning reset switch (located at the left side of the glove compartment opening) until the tire pressure warning light blinks three times at one-second intervals. 5. Wait two to three minutes with the ignition ON, for the initialization process to complete. If the initialization has not been completed successfully, Diagnostic Trouble Code C2177/77 is set in the tire pressure monitor ECU 20 minutes after driving starts. 6. Confirm that initialization is complete by verifying that the correct tire pressure values are displayed on the intelligent tester. When a tire, wheel, TPM valve sub-assembly and/or TPM ECU are replaced, the transmitter ID needs to be registered in the tire pressure monitor ECU with a Toyota hand-held tester.

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To register a transmitter ID, follow these steps. 1. Set the pressure of all the tires (including the spare tire) to the pressure specified on the vehicle’s tire and loading information label. 2. Connect the hand-held tester to DLC3. 3. Turn the ignition switch to the ON position. 4. Select REGISTER from the UTILITY menu. 5. Enter the transmitter ID using the hand-held tester and transmit it to the tire pressure monitor ECU. 6. Set the ID transmission condition to “ID registration is complete.” NOTE: If steps 4-6 are not completed within five minutes, the mode will return to the normal operation mode. To install a new sensor, follow these steps. 1. Insert the tire pressure monitor valve into the valve installation hole. Insert from the inside of the rim so that the print surface can be seen. 2. Install the washer on the tire pressure monitor valve from the rim side, and tighten the nut to 35 in.-lbs. (see Figure 3). Check for the following: a. Ensure there is no foreign matter on the washer and nut. b. If the tire pressure monitor valve was removed, check that there is no damage or cuts, and no foreign matter such as mud, dirt or sand on the grommet. Replace the grommet with a new one if any of these defects are found. c. Check that there is no oil, water or lubricant around the rim hole, tire pressure monitor valve, washer and nut. Failing to do so may result in improper installation. 3. Set the wheel disc to the mounting machine, and install the lower tire bead. 4. Making sure that the tire bead and tool do not interfere with the main body of the sensor, and that the sensor is not clamped by the bead, install the upper bead. 5. When putting air into the tire, be careful to position the tire pressure valve squarely on the stem of the tire pressure warning valve and transmitter. 6. After the tire is inflated, the valve nut may be loose. Retighten the nut to the specified torque, and then check for air leaks with soapy water. 7. Install the tire and wheel assembly. 8. When a new sensor is installed, the ID code will need to be registered. ■ Information for this column comes from Mitchell 1’s “Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems Guide” for domestic and import vehicles through 2010. Headquartered in Poway, Calif., Mitchell 1 has provided quality repair information solutions to the automotive industry for more than 80 years. For more information, visit the company’s Web site at www.mitchell1.com.

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Tire Dealer of the Year

Everybody say, In a perfect world, that’s what everyone who spends money at Mountain View Tire says about the experience. It’s also what Nick Mitsos said when we told him he was the 2011 Tire Dealer of the Year By Bob Ulrich

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ustomer service at the retail level means different things to different business owners. To some, it’s a hook, a way to get people into their stores. In the end, they might as well be crying “Wolf.” To others, it’s more literal than philosophical. The customer gets served, almost as an afterthought. A service is provided, money changes hands, and the customer may or may not come back. To successful dealers like Nick Mitsos, CEO and president of Mountain View Tire & Service Inc., customer service is a way of life. Does he really think his customers are always right? Of course not. But to Mitsos, it’s more important they always think they are right. In that way, they leave any one of his 29 stores happier than when they came in. He calls it the “WOW Experience,” a relentless business practice he has passed on to his three children — and everyone else who works for him. His focus on customer service has resulted in a $45 million operation in Southern California, and earned Mitsos Modern Tire Dealer’s 2011 Tire Dealer of the Year award.

Where ‘WOW’ comes from

“We got a call from a senior citizen who couldn’t start her car. She was a widow, and her two sons lived out of town. She had nobody to call, and remembered us from coming here a couple

times. Cat (Service Manager Catarino Jimenez) and I grabbed the jumper cables and drove two miles to her house. The jumper cables didn’t work, but Cat rewired the car, got it started and drove it down here. It needed a new battery, and we replaced it and drove it back to her. She was impressed and very appreciative.” — Henry Montes, store manager, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Nick Mitsos, 68, can’t pinpoint when he came up with the slogan the “WOW Experience.” There was no “Aha!” moment. “It was more of a feeling I wanted people to experience than an idea,” he says. “Whether you are speaking of food or a movie or services and people are thrilled or excited about whatever they are engaged in at the time, their instinctual verbal expression is typically ‘Wow!’ That is the same feeling I wanted to create with them as they were getting their vehicles serviced at Mountain View Tire. “The automotive industry has always had a dark cloud hovering over it in terms of consumer trust. I thought how simple it would be to give someone the WOW Experience knowing consumer expectations were so low. We have since raised that bar tremendously, and now we compete with ourselves in trying to continuously give that WOW Experience, as Mountain View Tire customers have grown accustomed to exceptional service.”

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, ‘WOW!’

Photo by Kelly Bracken

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Tire Dealer of the Year “We do it every day,” says Paul Mitsos, 39, a vice president and district manager for the company and the youngest of Nick’s three sons. “So it’s nothing out of the ordinary. It’s second nature. It’s the culture of our company.” “Managers and salespeople have full empowerment in customer satisfaction issues,” says Mike Mitsos, 43, also a vice president and the middle son. “Their responsibility is to take care of the customer and create the WOW Experience. I don’t want them to be bogged down administratively.” How do you create the WOW Experience? How do you create “raving fans,” as the company likes to call its customers? Nick has been able to generalize a step-by-step approach, although the list of requisites is always open to fine-tuning. • Make assertions, declarations and promises. • Be flexible, accommodating and easy to do business with. • Give the customer the benefit of the doubt. • Be thick-skinned and don’t take it personally. • Always smile. • Open early, close late. • Get it done right now, with a sense of urgency. • Fix the car right the first time, on time. • Deliver consistent service and pricing. • Uphold our image standards. “We want the store to be inviting,” says Chris Mitsos, a vice president and, at 46, the eldest of Nick’s sons. “We want it to be clean and the bathrooms to be clean. We want the associates to be sharply dressed and clean shaven. Our service bays have to be neat and organized. We want the person coming in the front door to say, ‘If they take care of their store, they are going to take care of me.’” Chris was new to the company p y when the deadlyy Northridge g Earthquake hit the San

Fernando Valley region of Southern California on Jan. 17, 1994. The 6.9 magnitude quake occurred at 4:31 a.m., killing 57 people. Nick managed to get through to Chris and others before the land lines were damaged. There were three Mountain View Tire stores in the area. “Get to the Granada Hills store immediately,” he told Chris. “And if you can, open it.” The same message was relayed to store managers in nearby Tarzana and Duarte. Fortunately, the stores were relatively undamaged, although there was no electricity for part of the first day. “We were the only businesses that opened in the northern part of the area,” says Chris. “We did everything by hand until the power came on.” The stores did not close for days following the disaster, according to Chris. “For the first two weeks, it seemed like all we did was flat repairs.” Perhaps “Provide for your community in times of dire need” should be added to the WOW Experience’s “how-to” list.

From dishwasher to business owner

”I have a little Lexus SC430 that is my absolute pride and joy. Shortly after my last set of run-flat tires, my low air tire sensor light began showing that my tires needed more air. I went to my local Mountain View Tire, and they checked it and reset it, but it happened again just a short time later. It kept happening, and they patiently kept checking, rechecking and resetting it. Finally, after thinking that possibly my sensor was defective, I took it to Lexus; they found that it was cracked — possibly during a tire or rim change. I replaced it, but went back to Mountain View Tire to tell them what had happened. Without hesitation, they copied my Lexus invoice, sent it to corporate, and within a couple of weeks, I received a check for the amount that I had spent to replace the sensor. That, my friends, is incredible customer service.”— Bonnie M.,, Orange, Calif. “My parents taught me my work ethic,” says N Nick. “I learned nothing comes easy. If you want w to get ahead you have to work hard, you have h to work smart, and any mistakes you make, m learn by them. “Making mistakes is not a problem as “M long as you don’t repeat them.”

Nick’s late father, Chris Mitsos (left, pictured with Nick), came to the U.S. from Greece by way of Ellis Island. He opened up the Express Restaurant in the Bronx after World War II.

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Tire Dealer of the Year Tire Dealer of the Year profile: Nick Mitsos, CEO and president, Mountain View Tire & Service The son of Greek immigrants, Mitsos made a major career change at age 40 when he joined the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. as an entry-level retail salesperson for $6.50 an hour. He had a family of five, and a son getting ready to go to college. “But I wanted to learn the business.”

Irene and Nick Mitsos have been happily married for 47 years.

Full name: Nicholas Mitsos Age: 68 Family: wife, Irene, and three sons: Chris, Michael and Paul I am most proud of: my family. My hobbies and interests include: drag racing and traveling. My favorite childhood memory is: playing baseball, being together with my friends. My biggest regret: I have no regrets. I make it a point never to look back. My favorite book: I’m not much of a reader, but I enjoy fiction. My favorite sport: football. Go Jets! My favorite athlete: Duke Snider, center fielder for the

Brooklyn Dodgers. He was myy idol. My favorite food: pasta My favorite TV shows: “Amer-ican Idol,” “Harry’s Law” e My favorite politician: Are you kidding? ng If I could change one thing re about myself I: would be more tle patient and absorb life a little more. ure My goal in life is: to make sure mimy wife and kids with their families have no worries. A perfect evening for mee is: a great dinner with family and friends. The smartest thing I’ve ever done is: marry my wife. Best advice my parents ever gave me: Never lie, always respect your elders and work hard. My advice to a tire dealer who is just starting out: Know the business and lead by example. The greatest thing about the tire industry today: There is always a challenge and it can take you two ways — keep you young or make you old in a hurry. It’s up to you. To keep yourself young, you must be an innovator, and be sharp every day to meet the competitive challenges.

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Mitsos was born in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1943. His parents, Chris and Pauline Mitsos, were first-generation immigrants from Greece. “My dad was in the food business. He started out as a dishwasher, and then learned the food business trade, first as a cook. Then the war broke out. He worked in steel mills (in Youngstown) during the war effort.” Following World War II, Nick’s father moved the family to the Bronx in New York City, N.Y. With his own father and two older brothers, he opened up a coffee shop, the Express Restaurant. “They operated that for many, many years,” says Nick. “The Express Restaurant was a truck stop. It used to be the hot spot to go eat.” Nick followed very closely in his father’s footsteps. “When I was 13 years old, I helped wash dishes during the summertime. And then I learned the trade. I graduated from high school and cooked in that restaurant. Then I went into the service in 1962.” The teenage paratrooper and his 82nd Airborne Division mates found themselves on the edge of history in October of that year, when the Cuban Missile Crisis almost turned into war. “(Soviet Union Premier Nikita) Khrushchev was there with the missiles. He backed off and then we backed off, but we were all issued ammo. We were at the (Fort Bragg) airport in Fayetteville, N.C. We were ready to get on planes and drop into Cuba. We were so gung ho. We were looking for a fight.” Two years later, with United States involvement in the Vietnam War escalating, he decided not to re-enlist. Six months after that he married Irene Papajohn. “I wanted to get married,” he says. “I was 16 years old and she was 14 when I met her at a church group at the Greek Orthodox Church in Brooklyn. I fell in love with her at first sight.” The couple recently celebrated their 47th anniversary. He returned to the family business, but after a few years, wanted to go out on his own. He always had options. A high school All-American baseball player at Fort Hamilton High School, he could run, throw, field, hit for average and hit for power. The New York Yankees scouted the 5-11, 185-pound center fielder while he played semi-pro ball in the Bronx. “I was supposed to try out at Yankee Stadium,” he says. But he felt owning his own business was the best, more sure way of providing for his growing family. “I really wanted to get out of the food business and get into the automotive business with

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Tire Dealer of the Year a buddy of mine because I always liked cars and tinkering. I used to do tune-ups for people because I had a knack for it.” That included his car, a 1960 Pontiac with tripower. (“My wife hated that car,” he laughs.) His dad said no. “I respected that,” he says, “so I said, ‘OK, I’ll stay in the food business with you.” Years later, after he started Mountain View Tire, Nick made sure each of his sons had the opportunity to do what they wanted in life. They were welcome to join the business, but only if they asked.

Change of plans at age 40

”A man brought his Honda Civic into the store with a water leak. We found that the leak was in the engine block. We did some research and found it was still under warranty — an eight-year, unlimited mileage warranty. We made an appointment with the car dealership, and a courtesy car was waiting for him when he got there. The dealership replaced the engine block for free.” — Tony Fore, store manager, Corona, Calif. After more than 30 years, Nick’s father, who was by then the sole owner, sold the business, and the new owners took Nick in as a partner. “That lasted for a couple years, and then I decided to go out on my own.” He opened up a delicatessen in Holbrook, Long Island, in 1969. “And it was very successful,” says Nick, “except when the town decided they wanted to build a new highway that

Teach your children well

Lessons passed on from father to sons Nick Mitsos, CEO and president of Mountain View Tire & Service Inc., gave this advice to his three sons while they were growing up: “Never lie, always respect your elders, and do well in school.” They listened and obeyed. “He taught us the consequences of lying. So we all are lousy liars,” says Chris Mitsos (pictured second from right) about himself and his brothers, Mike (second from left) and Paul (far left). When asked what their father taught them about running a business and living their lives, here’s what they had to say, from youngest to oldest. Paul Mitsos: “He taught us respect for everything. It could be respect for money, respect for people, an appreciation for what we have. I have a huge drive and passion that is immeasurable, and I think I get that from my dad. Failure is not an option. We thrive on success.” Mike Mitsos: “One of the most important things he taught me about business was cash is king. He has a very conservative approach to business. Don’t be in debt. Another thing our dad taught us: You have to put the business first. Don’t let personal feelings get in your way. It’s nice to lean on him for advice. It’s nice to have that father figure. I never want him to retire.” Chris Mitsos: “In life, he taught me to be honest, to work hard, and to be committed to your family. Absolutely those three things. He said something to me at a very young age that I never forgot: Blood is the most important thing. You look out for your blood more than you ever look out for anybody else. And that kind of always stuck with us. In business? Be honest and work hard, same as in life. There are so many concepts he has taught us over the years... how to fix a broken store, how to do forensics on a store. I could go on for hours. He also believes it is important to control your own destiny, so he has discouraged us from ever taking on a partner.”

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Tire Dealer of the Year bypassed the town itself. Then it became a struggle. “I had to go out and find ways of revenue for the sandwich shop. So I would visit large industries with 150 or more people and I would solicit them for sandwiches. I hired girls to take the orders, I would make the sandwiches, and the girls would deliver them. That’s how we got by what the town had done. “As I was doing this I would see that all the industries had vending machines in them. So I said, ‘Wow, why can’t I do that?’ So I got into the vending machine business as well.” His deli business wasn’t growing fast enough for Nick, whose goal of being a millionaire at 35 had come and gone. “We were making it happen, but I was still not happy because I was spinning my wheels. We were doing all the right things, but I just wanted something else.” He almost moved the family to Houston, Texas, on the suggestion of a Boar’s Head cold cuts distributor. “He saw the way I worked, and he was impressed by that. He said, ‘Why don’t you consider opening up a New York-style deli in Houston? In the meantime, I have contacts with supermarkets down there, and I can get you a job running their deli departments while you’re looking for your place.” Nick was thrilled, Irene less so. “That was not a happy time,” he says. “She had lived in New York her whole life. She always supported me, but it was the unknown and we had three kids. But I felt I had to do something, drive to get ahead, and that’s what I thought I had to do to hit it big.

“So I jumped in my Plymouth Arrow pickup and told Irene to sell the house. I was in Chattanooga, Tenn., when I called her. She told me Dick Johnston, who was our neighbor and a store manager for the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. at the time, said he would get me a job so I could learn the trade and eventually open up my own (tire) business. ‘You don’t have to go down there for all the wrong reasons,’ she said.” Nick turned around and came home. The next day, at 40 years of age, he interviewed with Goodyear’s zone manager, and was hired as a salesman at $6.50 an hour. “I was able to do that because I still had the vending machine business going,” he says. “Everybody thought I was nuts. “My plan was to work with them for a year and learn the business on a corporate level, because everything I knew about business was from a mom-and-pop environment.” That one year turned into five years.

Westward ho

“We ran over a particularly nasty strip of some material which had two long, sharp, closely spaced nails in an unfortunately vertical position. The nails punctured the tire, partially deflating it. After having AAA replace the damaged tire with the ‘donut’ spare, we contacted Robert Lee at Mountain View Tire in Palm Desert early Sunday concerning a new Michelin, which he ordered online, to be delivered on Monday. However, the wrong tire was delivered, so he reordered it for Tuesday morning delivery. We had visiting

More and more stores Will $100 million in revenue be enough? Nick Mitsos reached his initial goal of six stores within five years. That’s when the goal changed. “I realized our infrastructure was pretty good, and I thought, ‘You know what? Nick is overseeing We don’t have to stop at six. the building of his new two-story We’ve got a good thing go- headquarters in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. ing,’” he says. Twenty-four years after he opened up his first Mountain View Tire & Service store in Duarte, Calif., Mitsos has 29 stores, with two more on the way. The company grossed $45 million in 2010. “We would love to expand, but all the cards have to fall in the right place. We’ve talked about the infrastructure, and nonchalantly talked to our DMs (district managers), and I know there are a couple of them who would be willing to re-locate, whether it’s out of state or wherever. So I think we’re pretty well prepared, but it’s always a challenge with the labor pool.” Mitsos says Mountain View Tire’s growth is based on overall revenue, not the number of stores. “Our goal is anywhere from $75 million to $100 million.” Although there is no timetable for such an aggressive goal, he adds that “we’re all getting old pretty fast; we’d like to get this done.”

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Tire Dealer of the Year guests, and had only one day to take them on a pre-planned trip. Mr. Lee was very sympathetic to our problem, and loaned us a full-size tire for that trip. On Tuesday morning, our new tire was installed immediately, and we were on our way back to San Diego in time for our guests to catch their plane home. Service at all times was ‘over and above.’” — Peggy and Douglas D., Palm Desert, Calif.

it comes to taking care of customers. So I already had that philosophy. I already knew the importance of taking care of the customer: making sure things are done right the first time, communicating with the customer. If you’re selling people something, they need to know why it is that they have to buy it. You have to explain yourself. And you have to give them a fair price.” That doesn’t mean the lowest price. “We don’t have the lowest price,” says Nick. “We have the warranties, we have ASE-certified technicians, we have a place that’s not going to go away tomorrow. It will always be there. You can’t do it for free. You can’t, even though sometimes we do.” Here is a glimpse into Mountain View Tire’s advertised pric-

Nick admits he had a lot to learn when he joined Goodyear, which is part of the reason he stayed on for five years. “I had never sold for a living. So I had to understand the art of selling, and also the accounting end of things. Learning all about marketing yourself, what did and didn’t work, that was big, too. My parents never advertised. “There was a big learning curve. I came from a mom-and-pop type of environment working in the family restaurant. I wanted Mountain View leverages its racing activities a more formal way of doing business.” Mountain View Racing has competed in the Pro Stock class of the National Hot But he understood the key to success. Rod Association’s Full Throttle Drag Racing Series for four years, although tire “I knew back then that the customer dealer Nick Mitsos has fielded a drag racing team for 12 years. base was so important. In the restaurant As owner and co-crew chief, Mitsos will attend all 22 races coast-to-coast this business, you make one mistake on a dish year. Through August, his team had won twice during the 2011 season. and you’ve lost the customer forever. If The Dodge Avenger race car prominently features his Mountain View Tire logo. you are served something you don’t like, Mitsos also uses his race team to promote his 29 stores in other ways. you don’t come back. “The racing team is quite popular in the areas where we have our stores,” “The restaurant business is more critical he says. “We’ll bring down the racing trailer, show the race car, and if we can, than the tire and service business when

Drag racing: another passion

we’ll have the driver (Vincent Nobile) come in and sign autographs. It’s pretty awesome.” Mitsos’ passion for drag racing dates back to his New York days in Long Island. He drove a 1955 metal-flake green Chevy small block nicknamed “Pandemonium” at race tracks in Long Island and Englishtown, N.J. The cost to run his team this year will reach $750,000. His racing equipment, which includes the two-car trailer, cost $1 million. “It’s crazy the amount of equipment we have.”

Owner Nick Mitsos (circled) was emotional in Houston, Texas, earlier this year when his Mountain View Racing team won a Pro Stock drag race for the first time. The celebration was covered by ESPN Inc. The team was victorious again in Norwalk, Ohio, in June.

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ing strategy from July 2011, using the most popular P-metric stores. “I had a sister in California, so I went out there to see replacement tire size, 225/60R16, as a guide (limited tread what California was all about. I stayed for a couple of weeks, wear warranties are listed in parentheses). sniffed around, and found the place I wanted to move Cooper CS4 Touring (80,000 miles): $119.39. Mountain View Tire: to. I told my wife to put the Cooper Lifeliner GLS (60,000 miles): $102.37. Tire sales vs. automotive service house back up for sale, and Kelly GT Charger (50,000 miles): $85.02. the next day we sold it.” Mountain View Tire also offered a Goodyear Eagle With Chris and Mike GT II in size P275/55R20 for $159.95. on their own, Nick, Irene “Our father taught us that if you are offering up and Paul moved to Caliyour service, don’t devalue it by discounting,” says fornia. They were joined Mike. “Basically, it shouldn’t matter what it costs to by her sister, Maddie, and do business with Mountain View. We want to make her husband, Tony, both price irrelevant.” of whom work at MounThe money was good at Goodyear. Nick became a tain View Tire. Another of store manager 1 1/2 years after his hiring, and shortly Nick’s sisters, also named after that he was put in charge of an “A” store. “At the Irene, moved to Califortime, there were no caps on bonuses. You could earn nia shortly thereafter; she, too, works at the whatever you earned, and I was a very successful store manager. company. Total service*: 63% Tire Sales: 37% “I considered myself a good leader because I always “Once the move was led by example. If there was a task to be done, I did it * “Service” includes revenue from balancing, made, I interviewed with valve stems and road hazard programs. first, and then asked those who worked for me to follow the Goodyear region manthrough with it. And I was a good motivator.” ager at the time, and told After five years, he decided it was time to put his leadership him that my intentions were to own my own store,” he says. skills to use in his own store. He couldn’t open up on Long “Goodyear really helped me out, and opened up the door to Island because it was protected by the Goodyear company the West Coast for me.”

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Tire Dealer of the Year

Eastvale (below): One of two new stores that will open later this year, it comes with architecture that matches the mall.

Duarte (left): Mitsos sold his house in Long Island, N.Y., and purchased this store in Duarte, Calif., for $150,000 in 1987. Note his first store features Goodyear-only signage.

Rancho Cucamonga (above): The dealership features a shortened spelling of Mountain View Tire.

Corona: With the new logo, the Mountain View Tire name will dominate all signage. North Upland (right): An attempt to brand the stores Mountain View “Tires” instead of “Tire” lasted 12 months. The three stores featuring the plural form will be changed.

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One unifying name Mountain View Tire & Service is changing its logo (see new logo, center) and signage to better and more consistently promote its brand. “When we were a one, two or three store operator, Mountain View Tire didn’t mean much to anybody,” says Vice President Chris Mitsos. “Goodyear did. That’s the reason we always chose to go to market as Goodyear. “With 29 stores in a market of this size, we now have the flexibility to change. Our density and penetration is such that we need to make Mountain View Tire the number one name. “Goodyear will continue to be a wonderful partner and supplier to us.”

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He soon was offered a new store being built in Duarte, and he bought it. “I wanted to show Irene the location. She and I stood in the parking lot. We looked around and saw the mountains, and that’s how we got the name Mountain View Tire & Service.”

Day-to-day operations

”A family of five from Long Beach was taking their first camping trip and suffered a blowout on the highway. We had closed and were cleaning up, but Jimmy (Service Manager Jimmy Tinajero) was still here. He sold them a new tire, mounted and balanced it, and sent them on their way. After they returned, they sent him a $25 gift certificate to Chick-fil-A.” — John Meza, store manager, Upland, Calif. Nick’s sons, Chris, Mike and Paul, run the stores on a dayto-day basis, allowing their father to run the Mountain View drag racing team (see sidebar on page 58). “But I still follow the money — everything coming in and going out,” says Nick. In December of 1987, however, he was running his own store for the first time. “For two years I was the cook, bottle washer, janitor, everything. I opened and closed. I did anything I had to.” His original goal was six stores, two for each son. “I assumed they would want to get into the business, so I figured I would need at least six stores for them and me.” Over time, they each asked to come on board. “I knew that in order to be a success in the business, you had to learn from the bottom up. And not just for a short time. I had thought that after a year with Goodyear, I would be ready in the automotive business. But I knew I wasn’t ready after a year. I wasn’t confident enough to go out there and say I could handle all the challenges under any circumstances.” Each of his children had to serve a lengthy apprenticeship. Paul and Mike busted tires for a short time. Chris, who graduated from Cornell University and worked in the corporate world for a few years, joined the company as a retail salesman. “Chris will tell you that he asked to join the company when we had, I don’t know, four stores. I said, ‘Chris, you are working

for a ‘Fortune 500’ company right now. If you want to work for me, you’re going to take less money home than what you are now, there are no set hours and you’ll be working six days a week. Is that what you want to do? Are you sure you want to give all that up?’ And he said yes. So I said, ‘OK, you’re starting from the bottom.’” Every Saturday, Nick used to bring his three sons into the office for a couple of hours and give them additional business training based on his own experiences. He’d tell them why he did things the way he did, or help them understand the rationale behind his decisions. He once sent Chris and Mike to the Center for Creative Leadership for a week because he thought it would help take them, and the company, to the next level. “I thought that would round them out and get them involved with other people. There were CEOs and generals there. It was a leadership course. “I went to high school, that’s it. I don’t have a college education, not that that’s bad or otherwise. But I understand the value of an education. It gives you the ability to comprehend and think on your own, hopefully. And that’s what I wanted to give these kids, give them all the tools necessary to bring us to the next level.” At 68 years old, Nick oversees the operation. “When I’m home, I come in every day. If I’m not happy with a situation, then I open my mouth and we’ll try to make things happen in other ways, because sometimes the boys are entrenched in the day-to-day business, and I can see a little bit more than they do.”

Mountain View Tire: retail dealership fast facts 2010 sales: $45 million Percent of total sales represented by tire sales: 37%* Stores: 29 (with two on the way) Employees: 275 Average store size: 5,800 square feet (ranging from 4,900 to 7,000 square feet) Service bays: 203 Technicians: 170 (60% are ASE-certified) Vehicles serviced per month: 16,000 Tires sold per store per day: 12 (seven-day week) Tires sold overall, per week: 2,436 Direct lines: Goodyear, Dunlop, Kelly, Cooper Average monthly parts purchases: $560,000 * The percentage of tire sales does not include sales from balancing, valve stems or road hazard programs.

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Tire Dealer of the Year Mountain View Tire: annual advertising costs Total advertising: about $1 million Radio spots: $450,000 (anywhere from $500 to $1,000 for a 30-second spot) Direct mail: $162,000 Database reminders: $180,000 Yellow Pages program: $50,000 Managing the Web site: $30,000 Coupon newspaper inserts: $36,000 The Boeing Co.’s employee magazine: $14,000 Custom 1-800 phone numbers: $25,000 (leasing and upkeep for 100 numbers; three per store, plus extras)

“We don’t have to be told what to do,” says Chris, who handles the marketing, advertising, purchasing and pricing duties and, with Mike, spearheads the finding and developing of new store location sites. He also maintains the key supplier relationships with Goodyear, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., NAPA Auto Parts “plus a myriad of others.” “We wear so many hats,” says Mike, who is in charge of personnel and hosts all the orientations. “We’re like a sturdy table. Chris is a leg, Paul is a leg, I am a leg and dad is a leg. It’s a strong foundation. But each leg has different strengths and different personalities.” “Our responsibilities can overlap at any time,” says Paul, who oversees eight stores as one of four district managers (the others are Tim Squires, Eddie Reyes and David Miller, each of whom is responsible for seven stores). The Mitsos brothers believe their mutual respect for each other will lead to a smooth transition if and when their father decides to retire. Less than one out of three family businesses survive into the second generation; they are sure Mountain View Tire will beat those odds because they

were instilled with their father’s values, and treat his business priorities as gospel. “I think someone will be in charge, and we will discuss that when it is appropriate,” says Chris. “But we will treat each other equally.” For now, Nick says any of the boys can make a “final” decision. “If they want me to be a part of it, they will talk to me. If they think it’s a real big decision, they’ll ask.”

Looking ahead

“My 18-year-old daughter was going to take our boat to Castaic Lake (just south of Santa Clarita) to go waterskiing with her girlfriends. After hooking up the boat, I noticed the tires were low on the boat trailer, so I took it over to the Granada Hills store. While air was being put in the tires, Kyle (Retail Sales Manager Kyle Schulte) noticed that the nuts that went on the U-bolts to hold the axle to the springs were missing! I had a flash of the trailer

Store Manager Mike Deceglie (left, with Chris Mitsos) says the message from the home office is a simple one: Take care of your customers. “Listen to them, make sure you understand what they are saying, and try to make them happy.” Each of the 29 Mountain View Tire outlets keeps close to 500 tires in inventory.

coming apart on the freeway, and the entire carload of girls killed in an accident that could have been prevented. Kyle took the time to repair the trailer, right then and there, while I waited. Hence, the girls had a good trip. The moral of the story is, Mountain View Tire had prevented a tragedy from happening.” — Jim D., Granada Hills, Calif. There’s a reason Mountain View Tire promotes itself as the “Home of the WOW Experience” in Southern California. It’s good for the customer. It’s good

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Number 19 and counting Mitsos joins a select group of top independent tire dealers Nick Mitsos, CEO and president of Mountain View Tire & Service Inc. in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., is Modern Tire Dealer ’s 19th Tire Dealer of the Year. He was elected by a panel of independent judges, including two former Tire Dealers of the Year: Barry Steinberg, president of Direct Tire & Auto Service in Watertown, Mass. (1993); and Ken Towery, president of Ken Towery’s AutoCare SuperCenters in Louisville, Ky. (2008). Ken’s wife, Joanne, who is executive vice president of the company, also was a judge on the panel. The other 2011 judges were Saul Ludwig, author of MTD ’s monthly “Ludwig Report” and managing director at Northcoast Research Holdings LLC in Cleveland, Ohio; and Dick Morgan, president of Morgan Marketing Solutions in Dallas, Texas. The following is a list of our past Tire Dealer of the Year award winners.

Barry Steinberg

Ken Towery

Joanne Towery

Saul Ludwig

2010: John Snider, Snider Tire Inc. 2009: Bill Ziegler, Ziegler Tire & Supply Co. Dick Morgan 2008: Ken Towery, Ken Towery’s AutoCare 2007: Charlie Creighton, Colony Tire Corp. 2006: Bill Williams, Jack Williams Tire Co. 2005: Paul Zurcher, Zurcher Tire Inc. 2004: Bob and Juanita Purcell, Purcell Tire & Rubber Co. 2003: John Marshall, Grismer Tire Co. Inc. 2002: Tom Raben, Raben Tire Co. 2001: Larry Morgan, Morgan Tire & Auto Inc. 2000: Les Schwab, Les Schwab Tire Centers 1999: Raynal Pearson, Pearson Tire Co. 1998: Tom Gegax, Team Tires Plus Ltd. 1997: Walt Dealtrey Sr., Service Tire Truck Centers 1996: David Stringer, Stringer Tire Co. 1995: Tony Troilo, Rosson & Troilo Motor Co. 1994: Jerry Bauer, Bauer Built Inc. 1993: Barry Steinberg, Direct Tire & Auto Service

for the company. And it’s good for the Mitsos family. Soon, there will be a new “home” of the WOW Experience. Nick has been told he will be able to move into his new headquarters within the next few months. The 27,000-squarefoot facility is located on two acres within a stone’s throw of the building — Suite 202 specifically — that Mountain View Tire’s executive staff has occupied for close to 15 years. “I’ve always been able to see down the road,” he says. “I told Chris, Michael and Paul 10 years ago that eventually we would need a warehouse. I don’t know why I have that ability, but I do.” The headquarters will house not only Mountain View Tire and Mountain View Racing, but also a race car fabrication and engine building business. In order to supply its retail chain, the facility will keep between 5,000 and 10,000 tires in inventory. (“We’re not a wholesaler,” says Chris.) Nick Mitsos is very familiar with the proverbial fork in the road. If, as a young, five-tool player out of the Bronx, he tries out at Yankee Stadium, he might be a Major League Baseball Hall of Famer instead of Tire Dealer of the Year. If Nick doesn’t listen to his wife while driving through Chattanooga, the Mitsos family might be running 29 delicatessens in metropolitan Houston. If Khrushchev and President John F. Kennedy don’t make nice back in 1962, Nick parachutes into Cuba and all bets are off regarding the future. When the decision was in his hands, Nick chose wisely. He still does. ■

In recognition of this achievement, MTD will donate more than $5,000 in Mitsos’ name to the St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Church in Pasadena, Calif. The Mountain View Tire suppliers that ran congratulatory ads in this section are: Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., NAPA Auto Parts, Myers Tire Supply Co., O’Reilly Auto Parts, Hawley Insurance Services, Valpak of Los Angeles, BusinessVoice, Clear Channel Communications (Los Angeles), KeyMotive Marketing Services, Chevron U.S.A. Inc./Southern Counties Lubricants LLC and Narvid Scott LLP/Martini, Iosue & Akpovi.

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Business insight

5

ways

to better manage your team How to take charge and make sure your sales results don’t happen by accident By Doug Trenary

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ast month, I challenged you, the owner or manager, to build the foundation of a sales culture. This environment requires change and having the right people in the right places. A “SalesMinded” culture is never easy to establish or maintain, but it does have simple pieces that create huge dividends if they are employed. A mentor once told me, “If sales people did everything they were supposed to do, sales management would not be needed.” Conclusion: It’s needed because they don’t. To complement this challenge, today’s focus is on how you, the leader, can grow and manage your dealer team to be skilled, confident and attentive to generate more sales. We’ll confine today’s discussion to five key strategies essential for sales success. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to do everything your-

1. You get what you expect. Expectations self; task delegation is one of the fundamentals of an (the level of results desired) are self-fulfilling. If effective team management style. you expect great things from yourself and your dealer sales team at the counter, in the showroom, in the opening up with fresh new ideas on how to sell more tires service bay, and on the phone, you’ll get great results. If and offer new services to each customer. Those ideas are now daily habits that are increasing sales. 2. You must demand action, not intention. If you promise a shipment of truck tires to a retailer from your wholesale facility, I promise you, that customer doesn’t care anything about your intentions to ship the tires. The only thing that matters is that the shipment arrives on time as expected. History is full of businesses and individuals you don’t expect a lot or don’t make your expectations who intended to do great things but didn’t take any known, you’ll get just that, not a lot. action. No action, no results — it’s the law of cause I have a client who has begun his weekly staff meetings and effect. by going around the room and asking each employee, Your language as a leader should be laced with, “What “Do we expect to be the best, and what will we do this action is needed right now to solve this problem?” week to achieve that?” The net result was his team began The problem could be with a customer, but it could

If you want something done right, teach someone else to do it better than you can.

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Business insight also be with an employee (attitude, work habits, timeliness, appearance, etc.). Don’t rely on good intentions. Develop employees into doers! 3. You should keep the work simple: strategy, structure, skills. Ask your team members daily about these three things and have them share the questions and answers with their respective staffs (see sidebar). 4. You can’t do it all yourself. Leaders/managers create a trap for themselves. It’s based on an old adage, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” Trash that now and replace it with, “If you want something done right, teach someone else to do it better than you can.” I have seen more growth in my dealer clients in this area than probably any other. A couple months ago, I can remember a location manager telling us all in a training meeting, “I used to do the inventory reconciliations myself, but just decided to let Tom do it one time. I showed him how, and now he does it faster than I do!” The net effect is that the lead manager now has more time to move on to other things — and Tom was excited about his new role and growth. 5. You have to measure and hold your team accountable. Holding employees accountable is crucial to sales success. If you have a customer retention program, a sales training skills process underway, or key decisions that need to be made by

skills

strategy

structure

For success, your team should form strategies, operate efficiently and sharpen their sales skills.

people on your team, put those plans in writing and have planned follow-ups with them to makes sure these action items are done. Then have your team take ownership of the tasks (do the most important ones first). You must cultivate a culture where they are held accountable. That simply means, “Did the task get done with the highest degree of service, on time, in a profitable way, and to the customer’s or our company’s satisfaction?” The take-away for you from this whole discussion is this: Don’t let your sales results happen by accident. Take concrete actions each day as a leader to make sure all your staff is focused on the selling and leadership effort with desire, skill and good use of time. ■ For more information on Doug Trenary’s results-getting work, send an e-mail to info@dougtrenary.com, visit www.dougtrenary.com, or call (404) 262-3339.

How to keep it simple Focus on strategy, structure and skills One of the five key strategies essential for sales success is to “keep the work simple,” according to Doug Trenary, author of “The SalesMind.” He suggests focusing on “strategy, structure and skills” every day by asking your team the following questions. 1. Strategy. “Is this a strategy (plan) we need to form or shape? Do we need to write down our plans? What adjustments to get more done are needed in the service department?” 2. Structure. “Is what we need to work on at our stores something that is a structure (process, something tangible, system, etc.)? What do we need to clean up, organize, or redo to operate more efficiently and save time and money?” 3. Skills. “Is what we need to work on a skill (getting something done faster, smoother and with more impact)? Do we need to communicate more clearly our sales efforts and promotions? Do we need to ask each customer to buy today in a pleasant (not pushy) manner?”

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Counter intelligence

What should you do when customer confidence is compromised? 10 pointers on how to prevent a meltdown By Wayne Williams

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aining customer confidence is tough enough; re-gaining customer confidence is a whole different animal. Every company must have a “Customer Satisfaction Policy.” The fact that a company may not have a written Customer By Wayne Williams Satisfaction Policy is a policy statement in and of itself. I’ve written a number of articles over the past year about the importance of what I call “counter Intelligence” (effective communication, proper greeting, preparedness, product knowledge, phone skills), and a variety of other important customer-service techniques specific to the tire and service aftermarket. When things go well, all is well, but there are seemingly millions of things a day that can go wrong at the sales counter, and when they do, there is a loss of confidence. Re-gaining customer confidence is critical in our business. There are a lot of tough businesses in this world, but customers take their cars and their money very seriously, as you know! This month I’d like to outline some basic customer satisfaction procedures/techniques that can and will help restore customer confidence when it has been compromised for any one of a million reasons. Before I get specific and start outlining a few points, I’d like to say that I have held a variety of positions of responsibility in a company that was founded by a very famous race car driver. He shared his name alongside the company’s name and it appeared on all the buildings. He felt very strongly about customer service and resolution to customer complaints. Everybody in the company knew about “Our Promise.” When customer confidence was compromised, “Our Promise” dictated that we resolve the issues quickly, professionally and to the customer’s satisfaction. “Our Promise” was a big part of the DNA of the company. It was posted on large, framed posters in customer waiting areas, along with the phone number to the home office. With over 50 stores and thousands of customers each

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month, there were millions of things that could go wrong and, of course, despite our best efforts, stuff happened. I personally have spoken with hundreds of customers over the decades, and I’ve had to learn a thing or two along the way. Maybe some of these points and perspectives will help you, as well. 1. The sooner you contact the customer, address the problem and get working on a solution, the easier it is to resolve. 2. The faster you contact and resolve the complaint, the more time and money you will save. 3. Procrastination is a quagmire; indifference is deadly; remember that customers like to tell their friends about the service they received. 4. Customers don’t always get the facts right; you have to listen carefully. Some customers lie. 5. Most customers want your help; others just want to complain; some are unreasonable. 6. Most complaints are resolvable; some are black holes; some customers need to be fired. 7. During the negotiation of each complaint, there are “make-or-break moment(s),” sometimes you just have to cut your losses. 8. Something that helped me a lot was this advice a colleague gave me, and I quote, “It’s not about who’s right, it’s about what’s right.” 9. In the overall scheme of things, complaints are about communication and a person’s need to be heard, to be understood, and their right to reasonable service. 10. If you make it personal, or try to “win,” you’ll be sure to lose! Let’s expound on these points. Point 1. When customers are dissatisfied, most want to talk about it right away. If you delay your response beyond a reasonable time, you will set yourself back and start on the defensive. This is not good for the customer or yourself. Point 2. A delayed response will cost extra time and money because you will end up trying to justify a late response along with resolving the primary issue. This doubles the number of

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Counter intelligence issues and greatly increases the chances of compromising on one or both points, which will cost extra time and money. Point 3. Timing is critical . You’re behind the old eight ball. Quick and professional responses decrease the chances of bad word-of-mouth. Point 4. Listening, affirming and assuring will help put the customer more at ease and will help you better determine fact from fiction. I have listened to customers rant for 20 minutes only to discover they actually had the work done at a competitor. Point 5. Often with truly unreasonable customers, it’s easier to determine a course of action due to the fact their demands can be so ridiculous, the answer is simply no! Point 6. When I worked for the famous race car driver, we would do almost anything within reason to resolve a complaint; we often went the extra mile (no pun intended). However, from time to time, we cut our losses and “fired” the customer. Point 7. Again, listening is critical. Often the customer will help you determine the extent you are willing to go. Point 8. Tire and auto repair professionals make mistakes.

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Repairing cars is not an exact science; sometimes “ya just gotta eat it.” Point 9. Don’t forget, it’s not all about fixing the car, it’s about helping people. Point 10. If you push your point of view too hard, you can turn the customer against you and you’ll have lost the attempt to regain confidence. If you get on the defensive, it can start a war of words driven by emotion or ego, and you lose. Remember that you are trying to “earn back” the customer’s confidence and, of course, their future business, of which I don’t have to explain the benefits. It was very difficult for me to handle customer complaints at first. I was defensive. I had real trouble differentiating between a customer’s anger and frustration at the situation versus their approach and attitude toward me. Once I learned to listen and make each complaint less personal, it became much easier, less stressful and better for everyone. I had to learn that I was not trying to win, but help — and to regain a customer’s confidence. ■ Wayne Williams is president of ExSell Marketing Inc., a “counter intelligence” firm based in La Habra, Calif. He can be reached at exsellmkting@gmail.com.

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Focus on industry

Educational forums at the forefront ‘Green @ Noon’ track to debut at upcoming Global Tire Expo

GLOBAL TIRE EXPO

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ore than 1,800 manufacturers are already committed to exhibiting at this year’s Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas, Nev., Tuesday through Friday, November 1-4. The SEMA Show will attract more than 100,000 industry professionals from all over the world, for the trade show, educational seminars and networking events. One part of the show is the Tire Industry Association’s (TIA) Global Tire Expo – Powered by TIA. It will offer a trade show, educational sessions, social events, its Tire Industry Hall of Fame induction ceremony and more. TIA’s educational sessions fall into several tracks: “TPMS at 10,” “Truck Tires at 10,” “Tires at 2,” “Management at 4” and the new track created this year: “Green @ Noon.” “TIA’s reputation for providing the best tire training and education in the business is borne out by this first-class slate of educational sessions,” says TIA Executive Vice President Roy Littlefield. “Global Tire Expo attendees will have the opportunity to receive valuable knowledge and advice given by some of the top experts in their field and still have plenty of time to spend on the Expo floor, where they can conduct the business that is vital to their health and growth.”

Truck Tires at 10: Tuesday, November 1: CSA and Truck Tire Service – Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) is the Federal government’s new initiative for improving large truck and bus safety. This seminar will outline the requirements for CSA and explain how they relate to the commercial truck tire service industry.

Wednesday, November 2: The Future of Emergency Road Service – This seminar will focus on the types of light mechanical repairs that truck tire technicians should be able to perform with some additional training, tools and equipment.

focus on what manufacturers are doing “inside the tire” to make them more environmentally friendly. Thursday, November 3: What Are Dealers Doing To “Green” Their Tire Business? – In this forum, attendees will have an opportunity to hear from representatives from a large, national retailer, a tire manufacturer and an independent tire dealer on how they are making “green” work for them. Tires at 2: Tuesday, November 1: Successful Tire Dealers Share Their Secrets – Each speaker will give a short presentation on what they believe has led to their success. They then will participate in a panel discussion with the audience. Wednesday, November 2: Managing the Excellence in Your Sales Force – This session will cover talking points like what to expect over the phone, establishing relationships and building value. Thursday, November 3: Repair the Tire, or Fix the Flat? – This forum will outline the various repair limitations for passenger and light truck tires, so attendees have a better understanding of what is and is not repairable.

Management at 4: Tuesday, November 1: Understanding Health Care Reform – A panel of insurance experts will outline the main TPMS at 10: Tuesday, November 1: The World of requirements for employers under the Programmable and Multi-Format TPMS Green @ Noon: new health care reform law. Replacement Sensors – This seminar Tuesday, November 1: Sustainability & Wednesday, November 2: What Women will feature representatives from sensor Environmental Best Practices — Want – This seminar will help attendees manufacturers who will be discussing Part 1: Sustainable Tire, Battery and learn how to create a culture that attracts their products and how they best serve Automotive Shops — how the sustainabil- and retains loyal women customers. the needs of the tire dealer. ity concept intersects with the retail tire, Thursday, November 3: When Will You Wednesday, November 2: TPMS Tools battery and automotive service sector. Be “Finished?” – This session will provide of the Trade — Experts will discuss the latPart 2: Environmental Best Practices for attendees with an insightful examination est products and how they help tire dealers the Tire, Battery and Automotive Dealer. of the true purpose for owning a business service vehicles equipped with TPMS. Well-organized and clearly articulated and where it might lead them. Thursday, November 3: TPMS Diagnos- best management practices programs will tics – Matthew White, TIA’s senior ATS/ be presented so you can stay in compliInterested Expo attendees can find out TPMS instructor, and Sean MacKinnon, ance, avoid fines and create an improved the latest session and speaker information, TIA’s director of automotive training environmental image. as well as hotel reservation and TIA special Wednesday, November 2: Tire Manu- event information, by visiting the “Events” development, will conduct this seminar on TPMS diagnostics. facturers Going Green – This session will section of www.tireindustry.org. ■

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Your turn

Hall of Famer drives the Brickyard

John and Janice Kelsey cross the finish line at the Brickyard in their 1914 Stutz Bearcat at this year’s Indianapolis 500 celebration.

Dear Editor: Please see the enclosed newspaper article. It shows that John and I do other things besides going to the SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) Show and car shows! Janice Kelsey, Senior Director Kelsey Tire Inc. Camdenton, Mo. The article Kelsey sent along was a feature on her husband, John Kelsey, owner and president of Kelsey Tire Inc. in Camdenton, Mo., who recently had what he termed a once in a lifetime experience. He drove the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. He did it in his 1914 Stutz Bearcat with Janice by his side. What made the drive even more special for John was the fact that his father, Paul Kelsey, had also driven the exact car on the Brickyard in 1952 as part of a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Studebaker. This year the Kelseys were taking part in the Celebration of

Automobiles at the 2011 Indianapolis 500 race. The celebration was one of the events held for the 100th anniversary of the race, which was first run on May 30, 1911. It brought together some 250 classic cars built from 1911 to 1961, which drove around the track at speeds up to 50 mph (limited by a pace car). The vehicle was purchased by Paul Kelsey in 1951 for $1,250, John told The Lake Sun, a newspaper that serves the Lake of the Ozarks region. It is based on Harry C. Stutz’ 1911 Indianapolis 500 race car. The engine is 390 cubic inches with Bosch 2 spark dual ignition, and the car features four-point semi-elliptic leaf spring suspension, three-speed manual John Kelsey was inducted into transmission and methe Tire Industry Association’s chanical drum brakes on Tire Industry Hall of Fame the rear wheels only. in 2009 during the Specialty “The old girl still wants Equipment Market Association to get up and run once Show in Las Vegas, Nev. you get her in second gear,” Kelsey told the newspaper. He also shared one of his secrets for driving the Stutz Bearcat — he drives with his right shoe off so that he can feel the small pedals, preventing him from pressing the wrong one and damaging the car. Kelsey Tire has the exclusive rights to replicate and sell Goodyear classic and antique tires (see www.kelseytire.com). -Ed.

“There have been some small price decreases by private branders as supply is getting better and sales are soft.” Tony Sagona, President Midtown Tire Inc. Rochester, N.Y. “Business is challenging, but improving.” Mark Rhodes, President Plaza Tire Service Inc. Cape Girardeau, Mo. “We’re seeing tough retail pricing and decreasing margins. I see third quarter discounting if manufacturers continue improving fill rates. Sales will improve if gas prices come down.” Charley Gowland, Manager/Owner Chabill’s Tire Service LLC Morgan City, La.

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Modern Tire Dealer September 2011