To commemorate its 100th anniversary in 2014, Vogue Tyre & Rubber Co. held an anniversary celebration in Chicago for employees and business partners. Vogue Tyre was started in 1914 by Harry Hower, a chauffeur who the company says invented the whitewall tire with a patented gold stripe design.
“Vogue has always appealed to people who want the best,” said Greg Hathcock, president. “I think in 100 years we will still be the company whose products are different, unique and appeal to the niche looking for that, not just looking for tires for transportation but looking for a tire that stands out and is more individualistic.”
Hathcock said that in the next 100 years, Vogue will continue to emphasize customer service and treating employees well.
“We have a great history with the White Gold and the products that we’re traditionally known for. We’re going to continue to work hard to service that market and bring out innovative products. We’re also excited about our opportunities with the Signature V Tyre line, the new line of tires that we brought out in the last couple of years. We’re working hard to build that product line and broaden the distribution.”
Hathcock said Vogue’s two-year-old Atlanta warehouse has a good footprint for distribution, and the company’s relationship with Sailun Tires Co. Ltd. is now well-established following the loss of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. as its manufacturer.
“In 2009 Goodyear informed us that it was closing its Union City (Tenn.) plant, and that we were going to have to transition somewhere else. It took three years to get everything up and running and transition the entire line to be manufactured at the Sailun Tires plant in Qingdao, China. It’s our private label and made with our molds. We own the intellectual property for the sidewall designs and they build them for us now.”
Hathcock said Vogue sold the last Goodyear-built SKUs in June 2014. Meanwhile, the company’s Vogue Tyre Custom Center business continues to grow. “The Custom Centers are the aftermarket businesses we run within car dealerships. We’ve opened four in the past year, and we’re up to 17. We see that as an opportunity for growth.”
A special guest at the event was longtime Vogue board member Doug Dodson, grandson of Lloyd Dodson, who purchased West Coast distribution rights to Vogue Tyre from Hower in 1927.
“My grandfather was born in 1901 and when he was 25 years old, he borrowed $3,000 to get into the tire business with a partner who he bought out two years later,” said Dodson.
“He began selling more Vogue tires in Los Angeles than they were in Chicago. He had no formal education and didn’t graduate from high school. But by sheer intelligence, humbleness, friendliness and the ability to see the future, he swung through the depression. When everyone else was scared of World War II, he could see that when the war ended, there would be a huge market for tires. He was able to buy the company, and it started growing by leaps and bounds.”
That growth continues today and the executives in attendance expressed confidence in the future.
“Our industry has more fluidity in terms of companies going in and out of business,” said Hathcock.
“The biggest reason why we’re here is because this is not just our 100th anniversary; this is the beginning of our second 100 years. All the things we’re doing, the products and programs, new people and new ideas will all contribute to a strong and successful future for Vogue Tyre.”
Bob Ulrich was named Modern Tire Dealer editor in August 2000. He joined the magazine in 1985 as assistant editor, and has been responsible for gathering statistical information for MTD's "Facts Issue" since 1993.