Hankook Tire America's Goal: Double-Digit Growth in 2016
Hankook Tire America Corp. used its annual Partner’s Day meeting in Liberia, Costa Rica, to discuss its growth and branding efforts in North America to 87 key dealers who were in attendance.
Shawn Denlein, senior vice president of sales for Hankook, said the company increased its share of the U.S. market to 4.3% in 2015. In a separate interview with Modern Tire Dealer, Denlein said the company is expecting to outpace the industry during 2016 and is looking for double-digit growth this year. Denlein said sales were $1.2 billion in the U.S and just under $100 million in Canada in 2015.
In total, the Americas represent 22.1% of the parent company's total output, up from 20.8% in 2014. This makes the region the company's second largest market, with only Europe being larger at 30.6% of the company's total sales.
Hee-Se Ahn, president of Hankook Tire America, said it was his company's "responsibility to help you (dealers) succeed. I cannot say that 2016 will be any easier than 2015, but with our partnership and hard work, anything is possible."
Hankook now believes that 35% of its U.S. sales are at the OE level. Denlein said the company has focused on premium OE fitments with the belief that this will increase its brand awareness with consumers.
The company is continuing with its Major League Baseball signage program. In 2015, Hankook had agreements with 26 major league teams and the company plans the same level of investment in 2016. In addition to the behind-the-plate signage, Hankook also has begun outfield wall signage with five teams.
Denlein said the company will continue to use social media to increase awareness of its baseball program. The company also plans to continue its "Never Halfway" advertising program, which was designed for the U.S. market. This is a departure from its previous "Be One With It" program that was designed for multiple countries.
On the product front, Hankook is expanding its Kinergy GT H436 grand touring tire to include additional replacement sizes. The new sizes will be available in the second quarter. The tire was first introduced last year and is replacing the H426 in the company’s line-up. The new tire will be available in H- and V-rated, 40- to 65-series sizes ranging from 15 inches to 19 inches. The UTQG rating will be 540/A/A.
Later this year, the company is introducing the Winter Icept i22 (W616). This tire will come in 45- to 70-series sizes in rim diameters ranging from 13 through 18 inches. It will be available for dealers in 37 sizes for the upcoming winter season.
No mention of the company's Laufenn line was made during the meeting. However, Denlein told MTD that the sales goal for Laufenn is to be 8% of the company's sales in 2016.
MTD asked Ahn about Hankook's position on the United Steel Workers petition with the International Trade Commission regarding placing tariffs on truck and bus radial tires from China. Ahn responded that since the petition was just filed last Friday (Jan. 29), they were still studying it, but "we are concerned about it. A lot of people will be affected by it."
Hankook operates seven plants worldwide with a capacity of 104 million units per year. It has two plants located in China with a combined capacity of 33.7 million units. Later this year, the company will begin production at its U.S. plant. The first stage of operation will have a capacity of 5.5 million units.