Michelin to 'integrate' MAST Alliance program

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"We'll aggressively integrate our MAST Alliance program in the United States, Canada and Mexico to create a (unified) program," Michelin North America Inc. (MNA) Vice President of Sales Erik Olsen told dealers at this morning's MAST dealer meeting in Naples, Fla.

"The cornerstone of Michelin's distribution strategy in North America is the independent tire dealer."

MNA has 208 MAST Alliance dealers in the U.S., nearly 170 in Canada and about 180 in Mexico, according to Herb Johnson, general business director of MNA's Alliance Programs.

Overall, members have nearly 2,000 locations, he says.

"The program in Canada is more mature than in the U.S. or Mexico. It's been running (there) for 10 years now with fewer dealers."

Johnson says it will be easier to implement and carry out programs, promotions and other initiatives with all three countries together

instead of doing so individually.

As part of the integration, MNA is launching its Alliance Certification Program (ACP), a training program that will include "dealer (education), product modules, service modules, best practices -- everything a dealer needs to know."

The program, which was originally piloted in Canada, will consist of three levels: gold, silver and bronze.

"The bronze level will be the basics, Tires 101," says Johnson. "It will progress up to gold."

Each MAST Alliance member will be required to have at least one certified member at each location.

"We're selecting six cities across the U.S. where we'll be training" in 2004, mostly via two-day courses.

MNA also will roll out a comprehensive ad program in four, currently unspecified major metropolitan markets for its MAST Alliance dealers this year.

"One of the big pieces will be our ability to help our dealers with local advertising," says Johnson.

"Many of the smaller independents don't have the resources to run as many ads as national retailers."

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