Goodyear-Cooper Deal: Tire Dealers Comment on Acquisition News
MTD recently caught up with several independent tire dealers to gauge their reaction to the recent announcement that Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plans to acquire Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.
“I haven’t had much time to process it,” says Beth Barron, CEO of Morgan City, La.-based Chabill’s Tire and Auto Service, which has has 18 outlets -14 of them retail.
“It’s a major surprise. We all knew Cooper was looking for a buyer a few years back, so I guess we shouldn’t be totally surprised that they are being bought out, but the fact that it is Goodyear is a shock.
“It will be interesting to see how Goodyear handles Cooper distribution. Right now, you can buy a Cooper tire just about anywhere. It will be interesting to watch how Goodyear manages the Cooper brand within their current brand line up.”
Scott Weeden is vice president of sales at Ronkonkoma, N.Y.-based Barnwell House of Tires, a longtime Goodyear commercial truck tire dealer.
“We currently don’t carry the Cooper brand,” he says. “But I’m thinking they’re going to allow us to carry the (Cooper) brand. So as far as that goes, it would be another avenue to supply our customers with another option.
“Obviously, we wouldn’t want to cannibalize any Goodyear product or any other manufacturers’ products,” says Weeden. “We try to stay away from cannibalization of brands.
“We’ve sold against Cooper and Roadmaster,” which are Cooper’s commercial truck tire brands. “We’ll see how this shakes out down the line. Obviously, Cooper and the other pieces they have - like Roadmaster and Mickey Thompson - are things that would be interesting to us.
“Ultimately, serving customers is what we do, so if someone wants (Cooper products), we want to be able to give it to them," says Weeden.
Paul Sullivan, vice president of marketing for Norwell, Mass.-based Sullivan Tire Co. Inc., another longtime Goodyear dealer, says his company is “excited” about the Cooper acquisition.
“With Goodyear acquiring Cooper, it broadens their portfolio of offerings. Cooper is a well-regarded, quality product. Anytime you combine two products in a broad portfolio, it can only benefit dealers like us.”
Chris Mitsos, vice president for Mountain View Tire & Service Inc., which has 31 stores throughout southern California, says his dealership “has enjoyed doing business” with both Goodyear and Cooper “for a long time. Not only are we a long-term Goodyear customer - 33 years - we’ve also been a Cooper dealer for 11 years."
When Mitsos heard about the Goodyear-Cooper deal, which was announced on Feb. 22, his initial reaction "was a little bit of shock, but then after that wore off, it kind of made sense from the standpoint that Cooper has done the merger and acquisition dance before, several years ago with Apollo.
"And we kept hearing rumors about Goodyear being involved in a merger or acquisition. But everyone kind of thought it was Goodyear that was going to be bought, not Goodyear doing the buying. So all the speculation we’ve heard came to fruition. A deal like this doesn’t happen in three or four weeks.”
Mitsos doesn’t expect the acquisition to impact his business.
“It’s a non-event for us,” he says. “It will be business as usual. We’ll continue to buy, stock and sell Goodyer products and we’ll do the same for Cooper products. I wish them both well.”
Earlier this week, Rich Kramer, chairman, CEO and president of Goodyear, and Brad Hughes, president and CEO of Cooper, addressed - at high level - what the companies' tire dealers can expect to see after the acquisition finalizes.
“All of our customers and all of Cooper’s customers should have and will have available to them our ability to service them even better with an even wider array of products to serve them and all the customers who go into their stores," said Kramer.
"To be able to put our networks together, our products together, our services together, our OE pull - I think that service proposition actually gets better for them going forward. I would say (dealers) should feel good about it. And supply and service should be something that improves."
“I think when you look at the whole of it, in most cases, it’s going to offer more opportunities than risk," said Hughes. "I think once (dealers) have a chance to understand the benefits of this and put it into the context of their businesses, they’ll realize that also.
"This is likely to provide more opportunities, as opposed to risk. You think about the resources that are available to both companies to develop tires and make sure we are bringing them to market more competitively - again, I think this offers opportunity.”