Brand on a mission
Double Coin certainly is a brand on a mission. “We’ve become more focused on marketing products rather than just selling products,” says Aaron Murphy, vice president of China Manufacturers Alliance LLC, the U.S.-based subsidiary of Double Coin Holdings Ltd. “We’re not here to sell production. We’re here to sell a brand.”
Over the last several years, CMA has mounted a concentrated effort to boost Double Coin’s visibility and market share in North America.
The goal, says Murphy, is to “differentiate ourselves from other Chinese tire manufacturers so (dealers) see some similarities to the major manufacturers.”
Efforts have included the creation of a national account program, development of a program that enables independent tire dealers to sell Double Coin products to government fleets, supplying original equipment tires to Navistar International Corp., and the continued cultivation of the company’s dealer base.
New tires also have played a big part. And two months ago, Double Coin launched an advertising campaign that features testimonials from both dealers and fleet managers.
Murphy discusses these and other efforts in this exclusive Commercial Tire Dealer interview.
CTD: Can you bring us up-to-speed on Double Coin’s truck tire program in North America?
Murphy: There’s push and pull. While we’ve done a very good job of pushing tires and offering quality products at a quality price, we also realized we needed to create some awareness in the marketplace. What we’ve done over the last couple of years is create a brand.
It also has involved bringing more application-specific tires to the market. Many of the manufacturers that we’re trying to differentiate ourselves from have one standard product line for all needs. We know in North America you have to offer application-specific products.
CTD: What percentage of your customer base are independent tire dealers?
Murphy: I would say 98% of our business, in the replacement market, is independent tire dealers. We also do business with Love’s Truck Stops; that’s another channel of our business. We’ve used some tire company-owned operation sales. We’ve sold to GCR (owned by Bridgestone Corp.) and a little to (Michelin North America Inc.-owned) Tire Centers LLC, but the majority of our business is independent tire dealers. We fit well into what dealers need as far as their product screen.
CTD: You’ve really expanded the menu of services you offer to independent dealers. Last summer, you introduced your government pricing program. How is it developing?
Murphy: I think it’s been very successful. It has allowed dealers to approach government entities from all positions — federal, state and local — with a certified manufacturer program, and that’s what most of them needed.
The other thing we’ve done is (launch) our national fleet program. We now have the ability to electronically handle (fleets’) transactions. We’re trying to streamline the process for fleets and help the dealer, as well. So, those are things we put into play last year. We’re also upgrading things like our Web site so there’s more access to information.
CTD: How many plants in China manufacture Double Coin truck tires?
Murphy: We have three factories. Of those three, only two make tires for export.
CTD: At what capacity are those two factories operating?
Murphy: They’re running at almost full capacity. You have to realize that (their output) is not only servicing the North American market, but also the most vibrant economy in the world, which is China.
CTD: How many medium truck and bus tires do you plan to ship to North America in 2010?
Murphy: We don’t really like to give the units. We private brand as well as do our own flag brand, Double Coin.
Our sales right now are as strong as they’ve ever been. All of those things will allow us to continue to grow our market share. We’ve been a steady supplier during a time where there have been a lot of ups and downs based on global economic factors.
CTD: Are you pursuing more OE fitments?
Murphy: We’re always pursuing them, but in the last couple of years, it’s been so difficult from the OEM perspective. When you experience that sort of downturn at OE… it may not be the focal point of what you’re trying to do in your business. We expect to have more opportunities this year and next year as business grows.
Murphy adds that parent company Double Coin is developing an associate truck tire brand. “The other thing is we’re doing our due diligence on super-wide tires. We’ve begun the process of developing those. I think it will be 2011 until we start seeing prototypes and testing, but it’s something that’s on the drawing board and something we need to provide for our customers.” ■