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2010 was a rebound year for Hankook tire shipments

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According to Todd Hershberger, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Hankook Tire America Corp., 2010 was a rebound year for tire industry shipments. At the company’s Partner’s Day 2011 event at the Riviera Nayarit in Mexico, he told Hankook tire dealers the rebound was fueled by pent-up demand and rebuilding of inventory.

“Consumer tires were up 6.3%, however, the average increase over the last six months was a much lower 2.4%,” he said. “Commercial tires were up an incredible 22.4%, and year-over-year performance stayed strong from start to finish.”

Hershberger addresed the general economic outlook going forward, which he said is mixed. On the plus side, gross domestic product is projected to grow 3.5%, while business spending will be up 10%; interest rates and Inflation are expected to remain low. On the negative side, housing sales will remain low, unemployment will only improve slightly to just under 9% and gas prices are expected to top $4/gallon by summer 2011.

“So what does that mean for the tire industry? On the consumer side I expect us to return to the industry’s normal modest growth of about 2%,” he said. “The commercial business is likely to stay in a much higher growth pattern of around 5% to 6%, driven by the economic growth and increased business spending that will translate into more freight moving.”

In addition, Hershberger explained the importance of the company’s three foundational elements, which include quality products and brand building. He said the company will provide premium products that will compete favorably against any brand in the industry, and Hankook will continue to look for opportunities to have its premium products tested head-to-head against the best known brands in the industry to prove quality and performance.

Hershberger shared his excitement regarding the Hankook Brand Building Plan for 2011, which includes a significant increase in investment this year and in the future, before he outlined Hankook’s third foundational element. 

“Our third foundational element is you,“ he said. “We can have the best products and services, and awesome brand building investments, but it means nothing without having a great group of dealers representing Hankook brand in the marketplace.“

He shared two examples of what Hankook is doing to support its dealers better going forward. In the second half of last year the company started giving its commercial tire managers greater responsibility to manage Hankook’s relationship with its dealers that are focused on the commercial tire business.

“For those of you that have significant business in both consumer and commercial tires, our relationship with you will mirror your business, with the Hankook territory manager being responsible for supporting your consumer business and your Hankook commercial tire manager supporting your commercial tire business,“ he said. “Who takes the lead in the relationship at the top where your businesses come together is determined by what your primary focus is. This change better aligns our organization with your organization and I’m confident this change will help Hankook serve you better.“

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