Guiding business growth at McCarthy Tire
There is no typical day for Sean Wooster, manager of McCarthy Tire Service Inc.’s commercial-only location in Baltimore.
John McCarthy Jr., president, says it is the third largest store in the company, with a very mixed business. It handles commercial tires, including OTR, and is a full service center. Wooster manages 31 employees at the location and handles a fleet of 10 medium service trucks and five OTR trucks.
“My duties as store manager include everything under the sun; if it’s broken, usually it goes through me to get it fixed, or my lead mechanic,” says Wooster.
“When one of the guys doesn’t show up, that’s when I put on my warehouse hat or mounting-tires-in-the-shop hat. You do whatever you have to do to keep your store up and running and the customer handled. I try to get out to the shop at least every hour, but it doesn’t always happen with paperwork and phone calls.”
Wooster says some of the other challenges that may arise include physically stacking tires if the warehouse worker calls in sick or has some personal issues; keeping track of stock; and helping the company’s salesmen with their deals. “They’ll call in and say, ‘I’ve got this going on, what do we do?’ I might tell him, ‘Alright, let’s cut a deal on those cap and casings to try to keep the competitor out.”
Headquartered in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., McCarthy Tire is No. 22 on the 2014 MTD 100 list of top independent tire dealers in the United States. McCarthy Tire has four retail locations, 13 commercial/retail locations and 28 commercial-only locations. Tire brands carried are Bridgestone, Continental, Firestone, General, Yokohama and Double Coin.
McCarthy Tire’s Baltimore location has an 11,680-square-foot tire shop and 10,800-square-foot mechanical shop.
Wooster started with McCarthy Tire in 2006, right after he graduated college with a major in marketing and a minor in business administration from King’s College in Wilkes-Barre.
“Every day is different,” says Wooster. “Whether it’s a truck breaking down, figuring out how to get a tire out, going on a road call or handling customers. Our niche in the market has been the OTR segment. We also service some of the larger medium truck rental companies like Ryder System Inc. and Penske, fleets that require a lot of service. Our customers also include rock quarries like Vulcan Materials Co. and Bluegrass Materials Co. Some of the bigger fleets we’ve been able to pick up include Cowan System LLC, one of our larger medium truck fleets. The majority of our customers are fleets, although we will handle single, smaller customers. ”
Being able to pick up new business has been a critical challenge for Wooster, and according to the numbers, he is meeting that challenge. When he took over McCarthy’s Baltimore location in September 2009, the business did $7.3 million in sales for the year; that figure was $13.2 million in 2013.
“One reason we have increased annual sales so much is because of price increases from manufacturers: 15% to 20% over the last five years,” says Wooster.
Another reason for increased revenue is the addition and expansion of the location’s 10-bay service shop.
“The other big growth we’ve had comes from the mechanical side. My lead mechanic has built that business from zero to $1 million. We were at $800,000 in 2012 and $900,000 last year, and we’re looking to make $1.2 million this year. That’s everything mechanical. We’ve been doing that business since he started here in 2008 and he grew that. He’s added employees and he has six now.”
Wooster says his big competitors include GCR Tires & Service and Maryland Truck Tire Services Inc., a locally owned business with four locations, three in Baltimore.
To stay competitive, he draws on the advantages of being the manager of a store in a commercial chain.
“Having access to a lot of connections in tires is a big advantage. That helps us keep that competitive edge.”
Help from vendors also includes online training.
“Bridgestone’s got a great website. I’ve got a rookie right now we’re training for a management role in the company, and he’s been going through the Bridgestone online training for both retreading and new tires. It’s not just spec’d toward Bridgestone products, but spec’d toward tires in general and what you’re looking at in those casings.”
Wooster utilizes Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations LLC’s BASys Fleet Analyzer, which allows him to track fleets and enter the data into his computer system.
“Another great asset that Bridgestone has is its TreadStat online program for OTR tires. I can log in to handle my fleets. It’s strictly for OTR tires, big stuff where we’re tracking the hours a tire gets and each serial number is tracked in the system. When it goes out for retreading, you can see the total hours you have on the new tire when it came off, and track the hours you get on the retread.”
Wooster also takes advantage of on-site training for his customers and for employees.
“If the suppliers have new products coming out, they’ll do new product training — going over the specs, what the tread depths are, what the advantages are. Several times we’ve gone out to a fleet’s location with our suppliers, and they’ll do training for drivers. We’ll provide lunches and get the guys talking about tires. Then we cover what to look for, such as air pressures — where they should be, cold versus hot inflation, etc.”
Wooster also conducts Fleet Analyzer surveys. After he checks tread depths and air pressures, he enters the data online.
“It allows the customer to budget — they’ll know if they’re going to have a lot of tires wearing out in the next 30 to 60 days. It also helps us prepare because we can make sure we have the tires in stock when they need them.”
Wooster says “wearing all the different hats” is the most difficult aspect of his job. “You may set out to do three tasks a day that you definitely need to get done, but they don’t always get accomplished because other issues arise, like there’s an accident or other traffic issue.”
Wooster says while working with so many good people is an advantage, several will be retiring in upcoming years, which has been an area to address.
“The amount of experience in this company is amazing. A lot of people will be retiring in the next few years who have so much experience, not only in the industry but with McCarthy Tire.
“The company has been doing the right thing over the last five to 10 years — training people and getting some younger guys, including myself, into the industry.” ■
New RingTread plant: Wilson County Tire and Retreading conducts tours in Tennessee
Sumerel Tire Service Inc., which does business as Wilson County Tire and Retreading in Lebanon, Tenn., recently hosted an open house for its new Marangoni RingTread plant. The 27,000-square-foot facility is the third for owner Bob Majewski. The others are located in Newport, Ky., and Bluffton, Ohio.
Wilson County Tire and Retreading supplies retread customers in middle Tennessee and the Nashville market with Marangoni retread system products.
Rick Majewski, vice president of the new operation, says the plant is
retreading some 40 truck tire per day “and climbing.” The goal is to produce up to 132 retreaded tires per day. Majewski has more than 30 years of retreading, fleet and service experience.
The open house featured a plant tour, Spot the Retread contest and an “out of service” tire demonstration. Guests could enter a drawing for the chance to win a set of eight commercial truck tires or four wide-base tires to be retreaded using the RingTread system on the winner’s own casings, according to Marangoni Tread North America Inc.
Wilson County Tire and Retreading also offers a mounted-wheel program, drive-up service and pick-up and delivery.
There were 14.9 million truck tire retreads produced in the United States in 2013. Marangoni retreads account for 5% of the market, trailing only Bandag (42%), Goodyear (26%) and Michelin (23%).