Retail

Falken promises better six months

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"We had a bad first half of the year, mechanically," Richard Smallwood, Falken Tire Corp. vice president of sales and marketing, told Falken dealers at the company's dealer meeting this past weekend in Squaw Valley, Calif. "We tried to do too many things at one time."

Problems included:

* "Sales volumes that grew faster than forecasted, leaving Falken short in 18-inch and above sizes."

* Larger-than-anticipated growth of Falken's Visa brand passenger and light truck program. (Visa, which Falken introduced nationwide last November, is the company's entry level brand.)

* A new, $1.5 million computer system "that did not recognize inventory even though it was physically able."

On the upside, Falken's fill rates exceeded 95% in high performance and ultra-high performance tires during 2001, Smallwood told dealers. "Sales are again exceeding capacity in 18-inch and above sizes."

Falken will unveil two more 20-inch sport light truck sizes by fall 2002 and will add 14 new 65- and 70-series sizes to its S/TZ04 light truck tire line by 2003.

In addition, Falken "has secured sponsorship of key local and national events, including the 2002 Pikes Peak Race to the Clouds -- now called the Falken Tire Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (see earlier item) -- which starts later this month; has "realigned" its customer service and sales departments to better fit dealers' needs; and is developing a dealer-oriented Web site that will let them place orders, check availability and monitor account status.

Smallwood also anticipates an increase in supply, "probably... by mid-July."

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