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Jack Williams Tire: Taking care of its customers

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Jack Williams Tire: Taking care of its customers

What do Bachman-Turner Overdrive and Jack Williams Tire Co. Inc. have in common? They both are known for taking care of business.

For BTO, as the rock group was known, “Taking Care of Business” was a hit song in 1974. For Jack Williams Tire and its employees, it was the theme for their 14th annual wholesale trade show in Moosic, Pa.

Since the late Jack Williams started the business in 1929, the Williams family has taken care of business by taking care of both the wholesale and retail customer (Jack Williams Tire also runs 30 retail stores). That is why his grandson, Scott Williams, made a point of telling the wholesale customers in attendance how the company was addressing last year’s supply problems.

“We had a significant increase in business in the fourth quarter, which was unanticipated,” said Williams, president and COO. The harsh winter in the Mid-Atlantic region was only part of what he called “the perfect storm.” As a result, more than just tire supply was low. There also weren’t enough trucks to deliver product, or enough people to load them.

“That will never happen again,” he said. The company has since hired people to improve logistics and better analyze and forecast market trends. A call center manager was also hired.

“We’re looking at how to direct ship tires into our 12 warehouses, rather than having them shipped to our main warehouse in Moosic,” he said. “It’s really a matter of improving capacity planning and communication.”

Jack Williams Tire will roll out its MyTireShop.com online tire shopping tool to its 6,500 wholesale accounts this year. “We are still in the test phase,” said Williams. “We’re taking orders in two of our markets. More than 60 dealers have signed up.”

MyTireShop.com is designed to give participating retailers complete control over their pricing.

“It’s more of a tire sales opportunity,” said Mike Finley, business development manager. “We manage the opportunity online, and the dealer collects for the entire sale, not just the installation. We wanted to make sure the online buyer was their customer, not ours.”

Close to 900 people attended the trade show, which featured specials on GT Radial, Continental, General, Goodyear, Dunlop, Kelly, Nokian, Mastercraft, Kumho, Nexen, Sutong, Carlisle, Yokohama and MAST (Michelin Americas Small Tires) tires. Additional show specials included discounts or rebates on wheels, Coats and Hunter tire equipment, Tech repair materials, Challenger lifts, Perfect wheel weights and Schrader TPMS sensors.

Jack’s son, Bill, chairman and CEO, was Modern Tire Dealer’s 2006 Tire Dealer of the Year. He is getting ready to promote his son Scott to CEO, his son Jason to president, and his daughter, Tracey, to executive vice president. “They have a passion for the business,” he said.

“It’s exciting to see the second generation go to the third,” said Chris Tolbert, regional senior sales director for Nexen Tire America Inc. Tolbert has represented Nexen at the trade show for the last 10 years.

Ironically, the BTO song is not about having a strong work ethic:

“It’s the work that we avoid,

And we’re all self-employed,

We love to work at nothing all day.”

For the Williams family, it’s all about working hard. Bill Williams may spend the winter months commuting between his Pennsylvania headquarters and Florida vacation home, but the business is his hobby. So even if he is fishing a thousand miles away, he said he will take a customer’s call. “I’m as retired as I’m ever going to get!” — Bob Ulrich

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