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More than a niche marketer

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More than a niche marketer

Greenball Corp. has evolved a great deal since being formed by Chris Tsai and his wife, Jenny, in Long Beach, Calif., in 1976. The specialty tire distributor began operations in a 2,300-square-foot combination office and warehouse. Since then, it has outgrown its headquarters six times.

Earlier this year, Greenball moved into a 10,000-square-foot office complex in Anaheim, Calif. That does not include its five warehouses in the United States, including a 250,000-square-foot distribution center in Fontana, Calif.

The need for so many satellite warehouses is clear, according to Randy Tsai, director of Greenball’s GBC Motorsports subsidiary. “It’s pretty much impossible to sell (specialty tires) to wholesalers and make money.”

For years, Greenball has stocked lawn and garden, wheelbarrow, trailer — replacement and original equipment — forklift, ATV, motorcycle/scooter, small OTR and farm implement tires, plus trailer wheels. Radial and bias light truck tires and radial medium truck tires followed.

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Some three years ago, the company began sourcing passenger tires for SURE Tire Co. in order to diversify.

The passenger tire program is still in its infancy, says Tsai. “We’re looking to expand further.”

Greenball offers the Sonny brand in 13- through 24-inch sizes, and the Jinyu brand in 13- through 17-inch sizes. Both tire lines are manufactured in China. A 26-inch ultra-high performance tire exclusive to Greenball is in the works.

 Multiple sources

Chris Tsai is a visionary. He started Greenball because he saw U.S. manufacturers starting to focus their efforts on more profitable tire segments, a trend that has continued to this day. That left the door open for Asian specialty tire manufacturers.

One in particular, Cheng Shin Rubber Co. in Taiwan, was Greenball’s exclusive private brand tire supplier for 17 years. In 1995, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. became a reliable domestic source.

In keeping pace with its growth, Greenball now sources private brand and exclusive tire lines from 10 Asian manufacturers in five countries: China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand and India. Chris, the company’s CEO and president, visits each plant every year “to monitor quality control,” he says.

Randy Tsai joined his father at Greenball in 2006 following nearly two years working for Goodyear as a field training and merchandising manager. In addition to directing GBC Motorsports, he helps oversee new product development, marketing, advertising, pricing, sales administration, business development and sourcing for the parent company. Chris’ daughter, Cathy, also works in the business.

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MTD profle: Greenball Corp.

Name: Greenball Corp., founded 1976

Headquarters: Anaheim, Calif.

Tire markets: lawn and garden, wheelbarrow, trailer, forklift, skid-steer, ATV, motorcycle/scooter, small OTR, farm implement, light truck, medium truck, passenger.

Tire lines, Greenball: Terra Trooper, Power Master, Towmaster, Transmaster, Hiwaymaster.

Tire lines, GBC Motorsports: Dirt Tamer, Paddle Master, Mud Hog, Gator, Dirt Devil.

Warehouses: Fontana, Calif.; Elkhart, Ind.; Lakeland, Fla.; Martin (near Memphis), Tenn.; Pageland, S.C.

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