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New TBC CEO Discusses NTB, Tire Kingdom Strategy

'We Will Always Be Keen on the Idea of Growth,' Says Bourrut

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"We will always be keen on the idea of growth," says new TBC Corp. President and CEO Laurent Bourrut. "We must be absolutely sure, however, that the decisions for growth align with our strategic vision."

TBC Corp. has come a long way since its start in 1956. The company’s Tire Kingdom and NTB Tire & Service Centers chains have grown to encompass nearly 630 total outlets. And TBC continues to expand its Big O Tire LLC and Midas International LLC franchise networks.

The firm’s management team also continues to evolve. Erik Olsen, TBC’s longtime president and CEO, stepped down last month, when former Michelin executive Laurent Bourrut took the company’s helm. Marty Krcelic, TBC’s executive vice president and the president and COO of TBC Brands, also retired at the end of June. Stepping into his role - along with expanded duties - is Geoff Doster.

In this interview, Bourrut elaborates on TBC’s strategy of focusing on its “core” businesses, what’s next for Tire Kingdom and NTB and more. (Editor’s note: The interview also contains comments from Olsen. It was conducted before he retired from the company.)

MTD: TBC sold 112 NTB stores to Mavis Tire Express Services Corp. in 2020. At the time, you mentioned that “further consolidation of the NTB footprint is consistent with our strategy to focus on our core markets.” Can you elaborate on that strategy?

Olsen: As we execute TBC’s growth plans and strategies, we continuously analyze the assets in our portfolio and periodically fine tune them to drive superior performance in our core focus areas. TBC’s core focus areas are wholesale, franchised stores and company-owned retail locations. We are vertically integrated in the United States to leverage TBC Brands and National Tire Wholesale (NTW) to drive growth within the NTB, Tire Kingdom, Big O Tires and Midas network of stores. To drive superior performance, we will continue to focus our retail brands on high-growth, strategic geographies.

Consistent with that stated strategic action plan, TBC elected to further consolidate and focus NTB’s geographic footprint with the sale of the 112 NTB locations to Mavis. At that time, NTW and Mavis also entered into a distribution relationship. The cash from this sale allowed TBC to further invest in our core operating units.

MTD: Are other store divestitures planned, either within the Tire Kingdom chain or the NTB chain?

Bourrut: As an organization, we will continue working towards a sustainable, competitive edge as we make decisions in the best interest of our associates, customers, franchisees, supplier partners and shareholders.

MTD: Is TBC planning to expand into new markets with either NTB or Tire Kingdom or both, and if so, can you tell us where?

Bourrut: Our cross-functional teams continue to work alongside one another to identify expansion opportunities that support our underlying principles and our strategic initiatives. As an organization, across all of our business units, we will measure and define opportunity by the impact it will have on our team members, our customers in the communities that we serve today and the potential customers we may have the opportunity to assist.

MTD: Does Tire Kingdom’s go-to-market strategy differ from NTB’s strategy, and if yes, in what ways?

Olsen: Our go-to-market strategy for NTB and Tire Kingdom are extremely similar. The main difference is simply the target market from a geographical perspective, as Tire Kingdom is Florida-based and NTB has a much wider footprint.

MTD: What are your plans for Tire Kingdom and NTB during the rest of 2021? Will we see stores cropping up in new markets?

Olsen: This past year, in our company-owned retail locations, we achieved the highest customer rating scores in company history - a true accomplishment, especially during a pandemic.

Bourrut: In 2021, that trend continues as we remain focused on the customer and will continue as we strive to be the trusted and recognized leader in the replacement tire and automotive service industry. Regarding the opportunity to service additional customers, we will always be keen on the idea of growth. We must be absolutely sure, however, that the decisions for growth align with our strategic vision.

MTD: What’s your opinion of the current state of the U.S. retail tire market and related opportunities?

Olsen: The replacement tire industry remains fundamentally sound. With the steady improvement of projected miles driven expected to increase, we’re bullish about the U.S. retail tire market.

Bourrut: As recognized by the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association, tire shipments showed an increase over forecasted projections, further indicating incremental recovery within the industry. We’re eager to assist customers as the service provider of choice as travel demand increases. Reports, current sentiments and the momentum from the TBC team support our sense of optimism about the future.

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