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Cover Story - September 2015

MTD's 2015 Tire Dealer of the Year Ricky Benton: ‘It’s all good’

By: Joy Kopcha

Ricky Benton knew he wanted to be his own boss. Growing up on a farm, he was accustomed to a hard day’s work. By the time he graduated from West Columbus High School in 1973, he had cashed paychecks from a sewing factory, a tire retread shop and a plywood mill.

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Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. was the first tire manufacturer to start selling its tires directly to consumers via a website. Will others follow?

Note to tire manufacturers: ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it, too’

Each month we ask members of our National Advisory Council (NAC) a question or questions on a current hot topic. This month we asked, “Goodyear was the first tire manufacturer to begin selling tires directly to consumers online. Now Michelin has a pilot program that includes tire installation. What are your thoughts on this development? How do you feel it will affect your business?” Here are some of their responses.

Ten percent of all drivers at any given moment are being distracted by cell phone activities. Taking your eyes off the road for two seconds doubles your risk of an accident.

Distracted driving

It shouldn’t take an accident followed by an expensive trial to convince businesses to implement effective policies on distracted driving. And, even if the company has a policy, it also shouldn’t take a distracted driving case to make the business enforce it.

Bosch says the hand actuated bead breaker in its TCE4275 swing arm tire changer gives technicians more control when unseating beads that are close to the plastic cladding.

Clad wheels: Handle with extreme care

Clad wheels require extreme care during mounting and balancing. Without it, a dealer will pay the ultimate price: replacing the wheel. Some dealers are acutely aware of the latest market trend affecting mounting and balancing.

The training is interactive inside Bosch’s Xperience Mobile Tour truck, where technicians enter a virtual reality garage to learn how to service GDI engines.

Virtual reality is used to train techs to service GDI engines

Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) technology is not new, but technicians are beginning to see more of it as car manufacturers add more GDI-equipped vehicles to their product lines. Robert Bosch LLC says in 2015 37% of new vehicles will feature GDI technology. By 2020, 49% of all new vehicles will have GDI engines. Bosch projects it will have 56% OE market share in GDI technology in 2017.


Autopilot tire program

"We are tire DEALERS, not INSTALLERS.” Those were the words written on our website by a tire dealer when Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. announced it was selling tires online. And yes, as the capital letters signify, he was yelling. He was angry.

“Nobody works for me,” says Benton, 60. “They work with me as a team. I say that and I mean that.”

No one works for Ricky Benton

Even though there are 525 people on the Black’s Tire Service Inc. payroll, owner Ricky Benton says not a single one of those people works for him.


Bob's Headshot

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.
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