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Poised for growth

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Poised for growth

Growth” is the operative word at Alliance Tire Co. (1992) USA Ltd. The Denville, N.J.-based company, a subsidiary of Hadera, Israel-based specialty tire manufacturer Alliance Tire Co., plans to grow both its presence and product portfolio substantially over the next 10 months.

Under the direction of President Manny Cicero, Alliance wants to introduce between 125 and 160 products — both new tires and size additions — to the North American market at the rate of several per week.

Ambitious? That’s by design, says Cicero, who joined the company in 2007 after a two-year stint as CEO and president of Denman Tire Corp. and a 20-plus year career at Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC, where he served as president of the firm’s Off-the-Road Tire Sales Group in North America.

With a beefed-up sales staff, a new plant under construction in India and a recently installed distribution center in Tennessee, Cicero believes Alliance can meet its product roll-out goal. At the same time, it wants to build its distribution network.
Commercial Tire Dealer recently sat down with Cicero to discuss Alliance’s plans for 2009 and beyond.

CTD: What is Alliance’s strategy for North America?
Cicero: To grow Alliance’s sales volume, image and reputation. Traditionally in North America we’ve focused more on commodity stuff like bias rear tractor tires. We’re looking to change that. We make over 1,000 different products. We’re trying to veer away from being a “me too” supplier. We’re trying to build an organization that supports our products.

We’ve invested a lot in infrastructure over a short period of time. We’ve doubled our sales force. We’ve put a warehouse in Tennessee; it puts us closer to the market and helps us fill gaps. We don’t want to be just a container load importer. A lot of the stuff we sell is specialized.

Traditionally, we’ve gone with wholesale distributors; they’ve been our big engine. And that’s fine if you’re primarily selling the volume stuff. But if you want to sell more flotation radials, a very specialized product, it requires expertise. We’re looking for people to augment our distribution... people who really know the farmer.

CTD: Do you have a target ratio of wholesale distributors to servicing dealers?
We want a healthy mix of whatever is right for us. Even within wholesalers there are different kinds of distributors, including those who have built a really good associate network. We want to support them. You can’t do that without having domestic inventory.

And you need to call on more people. I could throw a dart at a map right now and feel reasonably confident I could hit whole states where we don’t have customers.

CTD: Will you offer territorial exclusivity when building your network of servicing dealers?
I really don’t subscribe to the word “exclusivity,” but “protected” is a good word. We’re not looking for sheer numbers; we’re looking for quality.

Having said that, we need numbers because of our new plant in India. (Alliance currently has one plant, in Israel.-Ed.) By the end of next year, our capacity will be 250% more than where we started at the beginning of 2007.

The plant in India will be every bit as big as our plant in Israel. By the end of 2010, it could potentially double our output from 40,000 tons a year to 100,000 tons a year.
There’s a lot of pressure on our sales and marketing people to find a home for that output.

“We also want to be mindful that we produce more than just farm tires,” adds Cicero. (Farm tires make up about 75% of Alliance’s total exports.) “We make forestry, underground mining, forklift, port, skid steer and small OTR tires — the entire gamut.

“We’ve identified ourselves primarily as an ag tire company, but we make a tremendous amount of products. We’re trying to build our brand.”  ■

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