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Hercules executives meet to discuss growth strategies

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After a successful fiscal 2006 in which it posted record sales of $433 million, Hercules Tire & Rubber Co. held a management meeting in Detroit last week to talk about strategies for 2007 and beyond. The mantra for the meeting was "One company, One strategy, One team."

Key executives from all five divisions were not the only ones on hand. CEO and President Larry Seawell says the company's "going forward strategy" also was attended by representatives from its majority owner, FdG Associates, "and they are part of our planning."

Hercules posted a 16.7% increase in sales in fiscal 2006 (ended Oct. 31) vs. 2005. In addition, every division grew its year-to-year sales.

The company also posted record cash flow (EBITDA). Seawell describes Hercules' net income as "solid."

He says the company will focus on the following in fiscal 2007:

* a worldwide logistics platform.

* a worldwide private brands strategy.

* management infrastructure. That includes marketing, purchasing, accounting and finance and other "behind the scenes" systems necessary for continued growth.

"We're adding key people throughout the company to help maintain our growth," says Seawell. The company also is "very close" to some new product announcements about the Hercules, Merit, Super Express and Ironman brands, but he wouldn't elaborate.

Hercules plans to add two or three locations to its controlled distribution network in 2007. Its distribution arms are TDW (part of the Hercules USA division) and Tire Specialists (part of Hercules Canada). The company also expects to expand its warehousing capabilities in China.

The company also will add regional sales offices as part of its expansion plans for the Hercules International export division. (The company announced the opening of its Latin sales office in Miami at the 2006 Specialty Equipment Market Association Show.)

Hercules should exceed $500 million in sales in fiscal 2007, according to Seawell, "and we've had a strong first quarter, so we're on track."

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