In It for the Long Haul: Keep an Eye on the Truck Stop Channel
Making a buck as a commercial truck tire dealer has always been tough. First, you have to compete against other independent commercial tire dealers, most of whom are great at what they do. Then, in some cases, you’re also forced to compete against your own tire suppliers. And — as if this wasn’t enough — you have to compete against national truck stop chains, which have beefed up their tire programs in recent years.
There’s no doubt that truck stops want a bigger piece of the commercial tire pie. And they’re investing to make that happen.
Love’s Travel Stops, the eighth largest retreader in the United States, recently opened a new, 200,000-square-foot Oliver retread plant in Indiana. The facility is one of six retread plants that Love’s operates and doubles the size of its predecessor.
Retreads produced there are sold at Love’s Truck Care and Speedco locations.
There are more than 400 of these outlets, which carry BFGoodrich, Bridgestone, Continental, Double Coin, Goodyear, Hankook, Michelin and Yokohama new truck tires.
Those locations also offer various tire programs, including TirePass, an in-lane tire assessment and inflation service.
Love’s, which has its own fleet of road service trucks, plans to open 30 more Speedco and Truck Care locations this year.
This will give the company, by its own count, more than 1,500 service bays that are dedicated to tire and truck work.
And that’s just what one truck stop chain is doing.
TravelCenters of America (TA) operates nearly 250 TA Truck Service locations that carry several new truck tire brands, including Bridgestone, Continental, Firestone, Goodyear, Kelly, Michelin, Roadmaster and Yokohama.
The company also builds its own retreads, operating out of a 32,000-square-foot plant in Ohio that opened in 2018. (The plant uses Goodyear equipment and processes.)
In addition, TA operates more than 600 RoadSquad emergency road service trucks.
Smaller truck stop chains are pumping up their offerings, as well.
Boss Truck Shop Inc. recently announced that Continental brand truck tires will be available at its nearly 50 Boss Shop locations, which span 23 states.
The chain also carries Bridgestone, Goodyear, Ironman, Kelly, Michelin and Yokohama brand new truck tires, plus Michelin, Bandag and Goodyear retreads.
Boss has a history of partnering with tire manufacturers. Remember when it teamed up with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.’s Wingfoot Commercial Tire Systems LLC subsidiary to form the Uni-Maxx Truck Care network?
While talking truck stops, I would be remiss if I forgot to mention the biggest truck stop-related announcement to hit our industry in years: Pilot Flying J’s alliance with Southern Tire Mart LLC, the largest independently owned and operated commercial tire dealership in the U.S. You can read more about this unique pairing here.
When it comes to servicing trucking operations — from the biggest fleets to the smallest owner-operators — independent commercial tire dealers rule the roost. But there’s a lot happening in the truck stop channel. Keep an eye on it.