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Many tire suppliers have formed a strong bond with their dealers through dealer-specific buying programs. The basic premise behind the programs is the same: “If you buy a certain amount of product from us, then we will provide you with additional benefits.” The details vary, however.

The following list highlights available associate dealer programs, and what they have to offer qualifying dealers in 2008.

One major tire company missing from the list is Hankook Tire America Corp., which does not have a “dealer group” at this time. According to Bill Bainbridge, director of brand communication, Hankook prefers to work with its dealers on a one-on-one basis. “For example, in the Kansas City market, through our direct customer Shore Tire, we support Shore Tire’s associate dealer program.”

Pirelli North American Tire Inc. doesn’t have a nationwide dealer program either, although its parent company, Pirelli Tyre SpA, recently debuted its P Zero Club in Europe.

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SUPPLIER PROGRAMS

Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC

Name: Affliliate

Members: 1,010

To join: A dealer must apply and be approved for a direct account, meet image standards and be capable of meeting minimum purchase requirements.

Minimum purchase: 2,400 passenger and light truck tires per year and maintain a 75% in-house share.

Phone: (800) 742-9851

Name: TireStarz

Members: 1,304

To join: A dealer must be nominated by an authorized TireStarz distributor, meet image standards and be capable of meeting minimum purchase requirements.

Minimum purchase: 1,200 passenger and light truck tires per year of which 50% must be Bridgestone and Firestone brand.

Phone: (877) 201-2373

Plans for 2008: “We have enhanced our direct mail advertising program, which assists our Affiliated and TireStarz dealers by enhancing their promotional activities,” says Barry Feasel, general manager of both programs. Additional plans include the addition of a national discount program on office supplies and an on-line tech education program.

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Continental Tire North America Inc.

Name: Continental Gold

Members: N/A

To join: Dealers sign a contract to purchase at a certain annual volume. The contract is renewed annually.

Minimum purchase: 300 units annually to qualify for Gold Express membership; 700 units annually for Gold Standard membership; 1,200 units annually for Gold Select membership; 1,800 units annually for Gold Elite membership.

Plans for 2008: Programs and benefits include customized start-up kits, training and certification, customized showroom components, a menu board, exterior and interior signage, apparel and other items.

Phone: (704) 588-5895

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

Name: G3Xpress

Members: 2,400 qualified locations

To join: Dealers are nominated by a Goodyear field sales associate and approved by Goodyear region management based on qualification to program standards and need for additional distribution.

Minimum purchase: $50,000 annually in Goodyear, Dunlop and Republic products (same as direct Goodyear dealers). There is no share of account requirement.

Plans for 2008: Expanded participation at annual Goodyear dealer conference; participation in Goodyear travel with the “Winner” program.

Phone: (330) 796-2121

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Kumho Tire U.S.A. Inc.

Name: FUEL

Members: 1,680

To join: Associate dealers enroll through a designated distributor and must make a small opening order (40 units) to qualify.

Minimum purchase: 200 tires per quarter to earn rewards, which are paid on specific products only.

Plans for 2008: A continuation of POP support and training, and “special promotions from time to time,” says Vice President of

Marketing Rick Brennan.

Phone: (800) 445-8646

Michelin North America Inc.

Name: Alliance

Members: 2,600

To join: There is an administrative process as well as an approval process. The program is run by area sales managers.

Minimum purchase: “This is a volume-based program with five Bib levels,” says Bob Schaffner, Michelin sales program development manager. “The lowest level requires 400 Michelin and/or BFG tires per year and per location.”

Plans for 2008: Additional funds and the loyalty bonus, which has a 2% payout on flag brands also.

Phone: (800) MICHELIN

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Yokohama Tire Corp.

Name: Advantage

Members: 1,448

To join: A prospective dealer completes an associate dealer agreement/enrollment form, provided to them through one of the 51 Yokohama Advantage Distributors, and places an opening order for 40-plus Yokohama brand tires.

Minimum purchase: There are three “bonus purchase milestones” offered in the program. The quarterly requirement starts at 125 units; the annual requirement begins at 500 units.

Plans for 2008: Yokohama’s 2007 package of programs and rewards, including the Exceed sales training program, will again be offered in 2008.

Phone: (800) 423-4544

DEALER PROGRAM GROUPS

Bauer Built Inc.

Headquarters: Durand, Wis.

Name: Tire Shop

Members: 25

To join: The enrollment tire order is 40 PLT units for a first-time customer.

Minimum purchase: 800 PLT units annually.

Plans for 2008: There are no additional benefits so far in 2008.

Phone: (715) 672-8602

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Best One Tire & Service

Headquarters: Monroe, Ind.

Members: 253, including associate dealers

To join: The associate dealer program is available to key associate dealers who “live the vision and values of the Best One organization,” say Best One officials.

Minimum purchase: “Associate dealers must buy 50% of their product through one of our distributors.”

Plans for 2008: Financial Best Practice Model.

Phone: (260) 692-6171

Independent Tire Dealers Group LLC

Headquarters: Tequesta, Fla.

Members: 108 (300 locations)

To join: A member must pay $600 per quarter ($2,400 annually).

Minimum purchase: A minimum of $200,000 from authorized programs in a calendar year, and must fit within area marketing guidelines.

Plans for 2008: ITDG has added an Internet site builder and maintenance provider, a uniform supply company, human resource services and other programs.

Phone: (561) 630-8737

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Royal Tire Inc.

Headquarters: St. Cloud, Minn.

Name: Tire One

Members: 307

To join: Qualify and sign a dealer agreement.

Minimum purchase: $20,000.

Plans for 2008: New programs include an ALLDATA national account program, roadside assistance program, and other services.

Phone: (800) 892-7018

Tire Centers LLC (TCI)

Headquarters: Duncan, S.C.

Name: T3.

Members: 774

To join: An existing or new customer of TCI can become a T3 member with a minimal annual volume commitment and payment of a $100 monthly membership fee per participating point of sale.

Minimum purchase: The T3 program has three levels, which begin with a 500-unit annual purchase commitment.

Plans for 2008: A new Web-based ordering system, plus new showroom and merchandising programs, says Thom Peebles, director of business development.

Phone: (800) 603-2430

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Tire Factory LLC

Headquarters: Portland, Ore.

Members: 163 (195 locations)

To join: Abide by Tire Factory LLC dealer agreement, including proper signage, customer service and sales policies, good credit and clean stores.

Minimum purchase: Must buy two-thirds of tires from Tire Factory.

Plans for 2008: “Our newest program is our Commercial Insurance Program (garage keepers, auto, business liability and interruption insurance), which has been saving our stores 15% to 25% per location,” says Nick Hodel, CEO.

Phone: (503) 283-6494

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