"We now deliver at a minimum four times a day to local customers within a 20-mile radius of our centers," says TireHub CEO Peter Gibbons.

"We now deliver at a minimum four times a day to local customers within a 20-mile radius of our centers," says TireHub CEO Peter Gibbons.

Roughly one year after tire wholesaling in the U.S. was turned on its head, I asked the top executives at TireHub LLC, NTW and American Tire Distributors Inc. (ATD) how their companies were progressing. Most of the questions I sent were the same; a few, particularly in ATD’s case, were more targeted. I asked them their questions in late April.

Here are my questions, along with the complete answers – with only minor editing -- sent to me from Don Byrd, president and chief operating officer of NTW; Peter Gibbons, CEO of TireHub; and Stuart Schuette, CEO and president of ATD.

MTD: How would you describe your company’s progress? What specifically have been the ups and downs?

Byrd: We recently celebrated our first year as NTW and we’re very confident in where we stand today. We underwent a significant transformation of successfully integrating two talented and successful organizations, former competitors, in a timeframe that I believe most would applaud. I’m particularly proud of our most important asset, our people. The eagerness of all team members to embrace one another and succeed as a united organization, along with the grit and determination to successfully make the concept of NTW and our commitment to bigger, better, faster, tire distribution a reality, is one that I hold in high regard.

Yes, we encountered obstacles along the way and we will continue to face challenges as any organization would. However, I can confidently say that all of these obstacles have been met with swift responses making NTW and all of our team members even stronger and better equipped to exceed customer expectations today and in the future.

Gibbons: We are proud of the headway we’ve made in our distribution capability over the last 10 months. Immediately after starting up, we identified where we had opportunities to improve the tire ordering and service experience (to) generate “quick wins” that would benefit our customers and we’ve been able to deliver in a number of these key areas. We now deliver at a minimum four times a day to local customers within a 20-mile radius of our centers. We’re laser focused on investing in our technology because we know that’s critical to how customers order tires. We are making regular enhancements to our online ordering portal, TireHub Now, and are always looking for feedback that helps make doing business with us easier.

Schuette: We continue to make tremendous progress in our transformation journey. Over the past few years, we’ve invested in transformational capabilities to strengthen our competitive advantage and deepen our position in the industry. We do this with an unwavering commitment to help our customers drive success for their businesses through our delivery network, dedicated sales specialists, industry-leading technology platforms, and unparalleled logistics. All of which are enabled by our award-winning data analytics tools, insights, and expertise. Investments in these areas enhance our ability to remain nimble and responsive to customers’ needs and positions ATD to lead the evolution of our industry.

In recent years, the replacement tire industry has experienced the biggest changes it has in decades -- and ATD is no exception. However, with the support of our investors, our bondholders, our suppliers, our customers, and our people, we leveraged these changes as opportunities to accelerate our transformation journey. We believe the companies that will prosper in our industry are those that focus on addressing the industry of the future while excelling at serving the industry of the present.

MTD (to Byrd and Gibbons): Has your initial strategy changed in any way?

Byrd: NTW is about bigger, better, faster, tire distribution. Our commitment was, for our first year, and will continue to be, to best serve our customers and our fellow associates.

Gibbons: No. In fact we are convinced now more than ever that our initial strategy was and continues to be right. Our strategy has always been to help grow our customer’s business, and to do it with incredible products and best-in-class customer service. That was what we said we’d do on day one, and what we continue to do almost one year into business. Saying yes to our customers is fundamental to TireHub and that commitment will never change.

MTD: What headwinds are you dealing with moving forward?

Byrd: With the ever evolving industry, it is incumbent upon us to provide industry-leading products, platforms, programs, services and support to best assist our customers in the dynamic environment in which we find ourselves today. As we embark on our second year as NTW, we continue to mature as an organization to best meet, and exceed the needs of our customers.

Gibbons: As a new company we don’t think about headwinds -- we are focused on our strategy and the opportunity to drive new growth for our customers. At this stage, everything is a first for us. We tackle each situation in front of us individually. We learn and improve and then we move to the next challenge.

Schuette: At ATD, we’ve never stood still. We believe we’re uniquely positioned to be the industry’s digital distributor of choice. With a business that moves tens of thousands of different products, serves 80,000+ customers and 20+ loyalty programs, you need the most advanced tools, knowledgeable sales and operations talent, and scale to meet the needs of customers and the consumers they serve.

Our purpose at ATD is to help our customers – and partners – thrive and drive into the future. The work our teams have done through our transformation has enabled ATD to be nimble and move faster in a dynamic time in our industry. We’re continuing to find new ways to service our customers more efficiently while still delivering consistent service, the depth and breadth of product they need, and bringing them value added services to help them continue to grow their businesses.

MTD: What would you want to tell retail tire dealers about your business at this moment?

Byrd: NTW, as an organization, has momentum following a successful year of transformation and integration. We have a very strong value proposition supported by industry-leading talent, an extensive portfolio, excellent market coverage and programs all built on the foundation to provide the best possible service to our customers. We’re eager to continue our evolution as NTW to drive sellout and profitability for retail tire dealers ultimately helping them build their businesses while positively impacting our industry and driving success for one another for years to come.

Gibbons: As we approach our year in business, the benefit of being a young company is that we are continually evolving. The first year inevitably had its challenges, but our will to win is unmatched and we learn something new every day. The mentality and opportunities that come with being new and nimble mean that we are always looking for more ways to help dealers. We have the flexibility to pivot quickly in the name of great customer service. Just within the last few months, we’ve changed our hours of operation, improved our delivery cadence, increased product availability, and integrated with more POS and shop management software solutions for our customers and added more top talent in all areas of our business. We’re making all of these changes in the spirit of making good on our commitment to say yes to our customers every time. At TireHub, we’re here to change distribution in the tire industry for the better and we firmly believe the best is yet to come.

Schuette: As we’ve said before, our purpose at ATD is to help our customers thrive and drive into the future. We are committed to bringing our customers the tools and insights they need to help drive traffic to their stores, enhance their operations, and maximize their profitability. Our award-winning analytics tools are designed to help our customers – from the independent tire dealer to national retailers – stay competitive through a strategic product screen to meet the needs of their market and consumer demand. We know that we can serve them in ways no one else can. We’re excited about the future and continuing to serve our customers and manufacturer partners for the next 80 years.

Questions specific to TireHub and NTW

TireHub wholesales consumer tires (see below), while NTW, says Byrd, “provides solutions across passenger light truck, medium truck, equipment and other specialty products.”

MTD (to Gibbons): Do you work with Goodyear and Bridgestone wholesale distributors or is that handled by Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and Bridgestone Americas Inc., respectively?

Gibbons: Goodyear and Bridgestone maintain relationships with their respective wholesale distributors.

MTD (to Byrd): Do you work with independent wholesale distributors that sell Michelin and TBC products, or are those relationships handled by Michelin North America Inc. and TBC Corp., respectively?

Byrd: Our focus has been, and will continue to be, to best serve the independent tire dealer. While some may consider other independent wholesale distributors competition for NTW, as a wholly owned subsidiary of TBC Corporation, oftentimes our competitors are our customers. We are comfortable with the idea and confident in our ability to successfully navigate these relationships in the best interest of our customers.

MTD (to Gibbons): I believe Goodyear estimated its volume would be down 1.5 million units in 2018 as it transitioned into TireHub. Is volume what you expected for all the brands, especially the Goodyear and Bridgestone major brands?

Gibbons: We are really pleased with the performance of our major brands and continue to grow and exceed the distribution capabilities of the previous company-owned wholesale distribution functions. We’ve done so, in part, by growing distribution across our uniquely deep portfolio of Goodyear and Bridgestone major brands.

MTD (to Byrd): Was unit volume what you expected for 2018? When you sent out the release announcing the creation of NTW, the National Wholesale Distribution Leaders page estimated Tire Centers (Michelin) and Carroll Tire combined for 14.8 million units.

Byrd: To meet the needs of our customers, NTW will need to be a “story about growth”.  In a year of significant transformation we moved forward in that regard.

MTD (to Gibbons): Are you selling any brands in addition to Goodyear, Dunlop, Kelly, Bridgestone, Firestone, Fuzion, LeMans and Toyo?

Gibbons: We remain focused on our current portfolio of Bridgestone, Goodyear and Toyo tires. 

MTD: How many distribution centers do you have?

Byrd: NTW currently has nearly 120 distribution centers throughout the United States including locations in Alaska and Hawaii.

Gibbons: We are currently operating 68 distribution centers across the U.S. (Editor’s note: It’s 69 now. See “TireHub Opens Logistics Center in Ft. Myers.”)

 MTD (to Gibbons): Are you distributing medium truck tires yet?

Gibbons: Our distribution strategy continues to focus on passenger and light truck tires, with a small percentage of select commercial tires being delivered by TireHub.

ATD and distribution

I also asked ATD some additional questions about its distribution. It has 120 distribution centers in the U.S. and 25 in Canada.

MTD: How close was unit volume in 2018 to the 40 million number you estimated for 2017?

ATD: We are particularly excited about our results, which are in line with our expectations. Additionally, in the second half of 2018 we continued driving growth with our go-forward manufacturer partners – well in excess of market performance.

MTD:  As for equipment and wheel distribution, how would you describe that part of your business in 2018 vs. 2017?

ATD: The wheels and commercial segments are important growth areas for our business. We’ve invested in talent and capabilities to drive continued growth in these segments that present great opportunity for ATD to take share.

MTD: What is the minimum amount of tires Tire Pros dealers need to purchase from ATD? How about equipment and wheels?

ATD: We’re proud to have the largest supply chain network in the industry, the broadest assortment of SKUs, and the best sales and operations talent that serve our more than 80,000 customers, including our valued Tire Pros franchisees, on a daily basis. We continue to grow our franchisee partnership. We remain focused on leveraging our unique tools and capabilities to continue delivering for our customers -- from the independent tire dealer to national retailers -- and providing them with choice on the broadest assortment of tires, wheels and shop supplies.


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.

View Bio