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Falken gets into wheel, parts businesses

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Falken Tire Corp. is getting into the wheel and parts businesses with two new programs that will be unveiled this November at the Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas, Nev.

The company's Falken brand wheel program targets the import tuner and SUV markets, says Richard Smallwood, Falken vice president of sales and marketing.

The wheels -- which will be manufactured by other, unspecified companies -- will be sold through Falken tire dealers. "It helps fill a niche for them."

Falken is rolling out two import tuner styles as part of the program, ranging from 16 inches to 19 inches, and two SUV styles in 20- to 23-inch diameters. Two or three more styles will be introduced by the end of 2003.

The wheels will not be offered through Sears or NTB, whom Falken does business with. They will be shipped out of Falken's warehouses in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and Nashville, Tenn.

Falken also will debut its new, ultra-high performance component program in November. Products will include springs, carbon fiber and aluminum intakes, strut tower bars and other items. All products will be marketed under Falken's Azenis name. "These products target the hardcore tuner market," says Smallwood.

Components, which will be made at off-shore plants, will exclusively be sold through Falken dealers.

Falken has been looking at expanding into tuner wheels and parts "for a long time," according to Smallwood.

"It's part of our evolution as a company. We're now a high-performance company, period.

"Our job is to define profit opportunities for our customers. After talking with them, we've found this can work out very well for them."

Falken will launch a "very aggressive" print ad campaign promoting its new wheel and component lines early next year and will push the products through its enthusiast events.

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