Dealers mark first year under United Tire banner
Fourteen dealers formed the United Tire and Service LLC tire group one year ago to increase their buying power. They marked their first anniversary by donating $7,500 to the Richie Ashburn Home Runs for Hearts Foundation to benefit the American Heart Association.
Bill D’Amico, owner of United Tire and Service of West Chester, organized a fundraiser and check presentation at his store in West Chester, Pa. All of the stores in the United Tire and Service network contributed to the donation with the support of Berrodin Auto Parts, PWD Lubricants, NAPA Auto Parts, Traction Tire, and Network Tire.
Community support is important to United Tire and Service dealers, who marked the launch of their brand in April 2014 by donating $5,000 and a percentage of proceeds from their opening day sales to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The dealers, who operate 17 independent tire stores, joined forces to offer competitive pricing on major brands while providing high-quality service to their customers in Pennsylvania’s Delaware Valley.
Ken Sylvester is president of United Tire and Service, which is the largest independent tire group in Pennsylvania’s Delaware Valley and the second largest tire group in their market area, preceded only by Pep Boys-Manny, Moe and Jack.
"We were looking at year over year numbers as the anniversary passed and we’re exceeding our anniversary dates,” he says. “The month of April was the launch date 2014, so we looked at April 2015 and we had a lift. So we’re still growing. Right now we’re still growing annualized at around 5%.”
22 locations expected by year's end
Three dealers have joined so far in 2015 and Sylvester expects more. “We had three new dealers signed up starting in June. We have another dealer coming on in July, and we have two more to follow. We’ll be at 22 locations by the end of the year.”
The new dealers expand United Tire’s footprint north of Philadelphia to Reading, Pa., and east to New Brunswick, N.J. Sylvester expects to add more dealers from the Delaware Valley area in the second half of 2015.
One of the newest dealers to join is Kevin Wachter, owner and president of East Penn Tire and Battery Inc. Before joining the tire group, his stores in Bethlehem, Pa., and Emmaus, Pa., were known as KBR Tire and East Penn Tire and Battery, respectively.
As a new member of United Tire and Service, Wachter's stores will do business as United Tire of Bethlehem and United Tire of Emmaus. "To compete in today's market with the mass merchandisers, I think we all need to be part of a larger group, especially for the buying power," says Wachter.
The new dealers join as United Tire associates, according to Sylvester. “They sign into our program. They buy our tires through our suppliers, they get the discounts, they get the buying power, but they are still independent.”
Reaction from customers to the United Tire brand has been extremely positive. “When we were branded as Goodyear dealers a lot of consumers looked at us as only being able to sell one brand,” says Sylvester. “But now that we’re branded as United Tire dealers we seem to be receiving a lot more calls for the other brands as well.”
Sylvester says money spent to promote the new brand has been and continues to be very effective. “Where a lot of stores are promoting the lowest price, we’re only promoting great service, great people, and locally owned. We’re promoting name recognition, too. We find that the name recognition is the first thing that new customers need to overcome.”