Galaxy Truck Tire Line Is 'Focused on Dealer Needs'
In an increasingly crowded segment of the market that has seen a significant influx of new brands, Yokohama Off-Highway Tires America Inc. (YOHTA), until recently known as Alliance Tire Americas Inc., believes it has landed on a winning formula with its Galaxy commercial truck tire line.
The Galaxy TBR line includes products designed for long-haul, regional and other applications and encompasses more than 40 sizes.
It replaces the Aeolus brand in Alliance’s truck tire lineup. And it gives dealers who already carry Galaxy OTR and Alliance ag tires a complementary, bolt-on truck tire line, says Brian Sheehey, vice president of marketing, YOHTA.
Time to go in-house
The establishment of the line more than one year ago marked the first time that the Galaxy name has been applied to a medium truck tire product, says Sheehey.
“When I joined Alliance in 2017, we were distributing Aeolus” brand truck tires, which were produced in China, says Sheehey.
“We also were distributing our own brand, Constellation,” which was produced in Thailand by Shandong Linglong Tire Co. Ltd. to “hedge against any Chinese supply issues. Over time, between tariffs and all sorts of different government issues, China was becoming difficult to supply truck tires from.”
However, Constellation only offered half as many SKUs as Aeolus, according to Sheehey, “so we decided the best thing to do would be to go in-house and develop (a new truck tire line) ourselves.”
The company then decided to position the new, in-house line as a complement to its Galaxy brand OTR tires and other specialty tire offerings.
“The Galaxy name has 100 years of history behind it,” adds Sheehey.
YOHTA built a truck tire-specific addition to its plant in Dahej, India, to manufacture products in the line.
Today, Galaxy truck tire production at the plant is running at full capacity. The facility is expected to build around 250,000 units in the coming year.
“We created our own line from scratch.”
Tested by fleets
YOHTA is in the first phase of the Galaxy truck tire line’s roll-out, according to Sheehey. “We decided on 10 models and 40 or so SKUs” in order to meet “90% of the general needs of the trucking market in the U.S. We’ve been selling the brand for over a year, but we didn’t do a traditional launch.” (The line’s existence was first widely publicized in the fall of 2020.)
“If we did a traditional launch, we probably would have lost a year of development time in getting these tires out to the market.”
The company started with a few trailer tire sizes “and then a few sizes in drive,” while making performance enhancements, such as moving to 16-ply constructions instead of 14-ply constructions, in some cases.
The idea was to work “from the back of the truck to the front,” he explains. “We wanted to make sure we addressed trailer tires first.”
Tires were then placed in fleets for real-world evaluation. “We seeded the products with existing customers who were looking for a line to complement their other brands.”
Testing is ongoing, according to Sheehey.
“We’ve been testing different iterations of tires. That’s one reason why our steer tires came out a little later. Steer tires are the most finicky of the positions, so we tested several different designs and compounds and decided on the ones that we are going to release. Our line-haul steer tires are in the final phase of testing now.”
Galaxy truck tires are SmartWay-compliant, he adds.
Complementary to the core
“We’re taking a little bit of a different approach” to marketing the Galaxy truck tire line and building distribution.
“Truck tires are complementary to our core products,” says Sheehey. “We’re not out there trying to sign truck tire-only dealers.”
Instead, the focus is on approaching existing Alliance and Galaxy brand OTR and ag tire dealerships that are looking for an ad-on truck tire line.
“Radial truck tires are very tied into radial OTR tires. They’re also tied to farm and forestry tires. It’s all about creating that window of supply without having to have a separate truck tire supplier.
“We also have quite a few servicing commercial truck tire dealers already in our portfolio,” mainly in the midwestern U.S.
“You don’t see it as much on the coasts, but in the middle of the country, there is quite a bit of crossover between ag, OTR and truck. Small dealers need (to carry) everything.”
The Galaxy brand’s equity will accelerate acceptance among dealerships that Alliance is targeting, says Sheehey.
“The Alliance brand name is more associated with ag tires worldwide. That’s where we've positioned the Alliance brand. Galaxy is much more associated” with construction and OTR tires, “so probably in the U.S., it’s a little better-known, just because it’s been here longer.”
YOHTA has no plans to establish a separate Galaxy truck tire sales department.
“All of our salespeople sell the line, but we do have two product managers” - one in the western U.S. and one in the eastern U.S. - who have responsibility for the Galaxy truck tire brand.
“Small and large dealers alike, if they are selling our ag tires, they can fill up their trucks” with products in other segments, says Sheehey. “We’re focused on dealer needs.”