The tireamerica.com tagline is "Your tires. Your way."

The tireamerica.com tagline is "Your tires. Your way."

Tire America is retailing tires again, thanks to TBC Corp. And like its former incarnation, it offers more brands than the norm.

First, some background. Tire America became a leading and progressive multi-regional tire retailer in the 1980s under founder Robert Ewing. It was one of the first retailers to market many brands, which included those marketed by Private Brands Ltd., itself a subsidiary of Tire America.

As you might expect, it was able to offer so many brands by keeping an average inventory of 4,000 tires at each store.

Tire America changed tire retailing in other ways, as well. It was one of the first large retailers with a low cost, high volume strategy, yet it tended to cater to upscale consumers and women, with nice showrooms. It brought a sort of professionalism to our industry. Tire America also advertised and promoted its tires heavily.

His innovative practices were the reason Ewing was elected to the Tire Industry Association Hall of Fame in 2009.

The fall of Tire America started in 1987, when Ewing sold the company's 60 stores, located in the mid-western and mid-Atlantic United States, to Western Auto Supply Co. Although Western Auto adopted a number of Tire America's merchanding and marketing techniques, it wasn't enough to save the company, which sold out to Sears, Roebuck & Co. in 1988.

Interestingly, prior to its sale to Sears, Western Auto purchased NTW Inc. and its 52 National Tire Warehouse outlets. (Some of you may remember those "fun" pricing battles between Tire America and NTW.)

Under Sears, the number of outlets grew. In 1997, Sears transformed the 275 Tire America and NTW stores into the NTB (National Tire & Battery) chain, and Tire America was no more. In 2003, TBC Corp. acquired all the NTB locations.

That brings us to the present. TBC quiently opened a new operating company under an old name, Tire America, earlier this year. The online company retails tires through tireamerica.com. TBC supports tireamerica.com with millions of tires in stock; some 1,413 affiliated installers help with installation.

The average independent tire dealer sells between 13 and 15 tire brands. The new Tire America offers 24 brands: BFGoodrich, Bridgestone, Continental, Cooper, Cordovan, Custom 428, Dunlop, Epic, Firestone, General, Goodyear, Hankook, Kumho, Michelin, Mud Claw, Nexen, Nitto, Ohtsu, Performer, Pirelli, Sumitomo, Uniroyal, Velozza and Yokohama.

And so Tire America lives again. And, coincidentally, so does NTW, also in a different format.

When Michelin North America Inc. bought 50% of TBC Corp. from Sumitomo Corporation of Americas last February, the result was the second largest tire wholesaler in the U.S.

What did the partners call the new entity? National Tire Wholesale, or NTW.

Author

Bob Ulrich
Bob Ulrich

Editor, Retired

Editor Bob Ulrich has earned a reputation as an industry expert thanks to his insightful, in-depth articles and blogs on the tire industry. Before joining Modern Tire Dealer in 1985, Bob earned a B.A. in English literature from Ohio Northern University. Also, he graduated from the University of Akron School of Law with a J.D.

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Editor Bob Ulrich has earned a reputation as an industry expert thanks to his insightful, in-depth articles and blogs on the tire industry. Before joining Modern Tire Dealer in 1985, Bob earned a B.A. in English literature from Ohio Northern University. Also, he graduated from the University of Akron School of Law with a J.D.

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