The TBC Purchasing Group is responsible for the acquisition of all goods for resale by the sales channel of TBC Corp. As a result, Bill Dashiell, senior vice president of the group’s Commercial Tire Division, not only serves as a commercial tire marketing manager, but also acts as a liaison to the TBC Wholesale Group.
Modern Tire Dealer talked with Dashiell about TBC’s commercial brand strategy — yes, it includes refreshing the Sumitomo truck tire brand — and some of the key issues affecting the independent commercial tire dealer.
MTD: Jon Vance, vice president of product marketing for the TBC Brands Division of TBC Wholesale, says the goal of the consumer tire product screen is to occupy every price position across every market segment. In addition, the marketing efforts center on the company’s private and exclusive brands. What is your commercial brand strategy?
Dashiell: The commercial division is really kind of a hybrid within the purchasing organization, in which we do both product marketing and purchasing. As far as the brands and products are concerned, the programming is somewhat similar to our consumer brand strategy. We have our TBC-controlled proprietary or core brands, including Power King for the on-highway truck tire segment as well as some off-highway OTR products, and our Harvest King farm tire program. Both brands are designed more for the value segment of the market.
When you look at some of our other products, such as in our TBR lines, our offering is very similar to what Jon has. We have products for multiple tiers, with Sumitomo really being our flagship brand, a dedicated brand for the North American market for TBC. We also offer Sailun and then our opening price point programs, Dynacargo, Advance and Crosswind.
MTD: What about in addition to the TBR and bias truck tire brands?
Dashiell: On the trailer side, we have the Towmax, Trailer King and Towstar brands. Those are all radial programs. We supply the OE market as well as the replacement market with ST tires. Towmax is our flagship ST program. We’ve offered it for a number of years, and it’s well positioned in the OE market. We also have Power King, which is a predominantly bias trailer tire brand. In the solid tire segment, we have handled the Advance brand for the last couple of years.
MTD: It sounds like you have enough brands not to overlap in any commercial tire dealer’s market.
Dashiell: The strategy is to be able to provide a solution for our customers when it comes to their product needs. On the truck side, we really offer what we consider a complete solution for them, whether it be with our reinvigorated Sumitomo flagship brand or a lower-tier quality product. It was really time for Sumitomo to come out with some new products with real evolutionary changes, not only for Sumitomo, but also in the truck tire segment as a whole. The performance of the tire and customer reaction to it has been extremely exciting.
We offer a multistep approach in all our commercial segments. We give customers products that will perform at different levels, but also allow them to be able to slot them into where they see each one fits the best. We also have the ability to sell different products to different customers in the same market. For example, one customer might have the Towstar while another has the Trailer King, and that helps us maintain exclusivity. And the marketing programs and incentives are the same for all our brands.
The reality is we’re here to service the customer, because without them the programs don’t work.
MTD: There suddenly seem to be new players or players-to-be in the U.S. replacement truck tire market. Do you agree?
Dashiell: Certainly in the lower tiers, the decision by the International Trade Commission not to impose tariffs on truck and bus tires from China is a big reason for the increased number of brands. There’s always another brand coming into the aftermarket, but our goal is to make sure we have the products that perform in the way the customers expect them to, and the products that are there on a consistent basis to allow them to be profitable. ■