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It's been a year of change for Tire Factory

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The opening of a second distribution center last month is one of several big changes that have taken place at Tire Factory LLC this year.

The Portland, Ore.-based tire dealer program group, one of the largest of its kind in the United States, is looking for "growth that benefits our membership," Chairman Chris Cornelius recently told (For more about Tire Factory's new warehouse, see Tire Factory opens high-tech Salt Lake City D/C, posted Aug. 31.)

"We're looking for team players," he said. Tire Factory currently has 185 fully vested dealer-members, plus 40-plus "non-branded" members. "Our desire isn't to have 1,500 stores... it's smart, controlled growth that will benefit all who are involved."

The group expects to pay dividends early next year on a volume bonus program that it introduced at the start of 2009, a first for the organization.

"We have dealers who are very small rural dealers who, even though they support us very well, they buy small amounts," says Tire Factory co-CEO Eric Gill. "We also have dealers who are quite large -- 10-store owners -- who can probably negotiate similar dealers with vendors on their own at times. What we want to do is give the same value to all of our members."

The bonus program "encourages people to buy from us. It has tied in some of our larger dealers who appreciated Tire Factory's branding but didn't always appreciate Tire Factory's buying power."

More changes are underway. Cornelius and Gill told that Tire Factory wants to whittle down its number of vendors. "We still view ourselves as the little guy," says Gill. "We're not Les Schwab. We rely on our vendors not only to deliver a good, fair price, we (rely on them) to give us training support and good supply."

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