ATD Exec Talks Digital Tools, Tire Supply and Going Green

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Bill Hancock, senior vice president, supply chain operations, at American Tire Distributors Inc. (ATD), recently brought MTD up to speed on the company’s suite of digital tools, tire supply and how it is building a more environmentally friendly operation.

“One exciting tool that we launched as a free, value-added service is something we call Traction, a mobile transaction app that provides all of our customers with real-time delivery alerts, routing details, order details and more,” says Hancock, who adds that the platform was introduced in the fall of 2019.

“Once a delivery driver shows up at their location, they can have credit processing in real time, they can get their accounts reconciled, they can cancel an order, they can build onto an order, they can process a return, they can process a warranty - and once our driver leaves, it’s all up to date.

“We can text or email an invoice directly to the customer and their books can be reflective of that,” he says. “It’s exciting for our customers but it’s also exciting for our drivers and warehouse workers. It prepares them with tools and technologies to really take care of our customers’ needs.”

ATD also is heavily promoting its e-commerce portal. “If you have a customer who wants to do business with your company, we can be that fulfillment provider and make sure they have great access to that product and very fast shipping times.”

Hancock notes that ATD has “leveraged our advanced analytics platform to take historical data that’s coming from our suppliers, retailers and manufacturers” in order to “create a very accurate forecast of what the future will look like.

“Over the last year to two years, we’ve (improved) our in-stock rates by 3% to 4% by reducing inventory levels by as much as 30% in some of our key categories. That’s a game-changer when you look at the return on capital.”

The latest on supply

Hancock also commented on the state of tire supply.

“When it comes to inventory availability, we clearly saw an impact back in March when we saw manufacturers go off-line for a period of time,” he says. “We saw some retail customers close their locations to protect themselves, their teams and their customers. And no doubt there has been supply disruption as part of those manufacturers going off-line.

“As they’ve come back on-line we’re starting to see those in-stock rates recover,” he notes. “And we are confident that as we continue to provide our manufacturers with demand signals, rates will continue to improve. Because of the work of our frontline teams, we have been able to maintain operations at all of our facilities with only minimal impact to our customers. We know COVID-19 is not done and we need to be sure we are continually conscious of how we operate.

“We are constantly assessing the health of our network - where we are seeing pockets of growth and where we are seeing pockets of opportunity,” he explains. ATD also is focused on reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. The company wants to cut its greenhouse gas output by 25% within the next 10 years, according to Hancock.

“We’re looking at our distribution center operations. We’re assessing everything from route optimization, reducing the miles we drive...we’re looking at fleet electrification and making sure we’re up to date on the latest technology. It’s all about creating a more efficient platform” and “making sure we’re creating a good, sustainable environment for our team and the communities we service.”

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