SEMA Show, pre-show: Hofmann fights for Freedom
Last year, Tom Hofmann came to the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show looking for non-Chinese tires to buy. As owner of Freedom Tire Distributing, he was affected by the 35% tariff implemented on Chinese consumer tire imports in September.
"We were buying five to seven containers a month of Chinese (tires),” he says. “We ended up buying a lot of product out of Thailand and Indonesia.”
Hofmann’s suppliers already were at the show, and he admits that he probably would have purchased the tires from them anyway. But visiting Las Vegas allowed him to see the tires, their quality, “and talk directly with the manufacturers.”
One year later, his container loads from China are down to two a month. However, his imports are up, and so is his five-year-old business, which Hofmann started with a couple hundred tires and a pickup truck.
Freedom Tire Distributing wholesales to hundreds of accounts in the Corona, Calif., area. Hofmann, a former 4-Day Tire employee, and his 11 employees cater to independent tire dealerships, “plus a few repair shops here and there.” He stocks 25,000 units in his new 30,000-square-foot warehouse.
Hofmann buys the Cooper, Mastercraft and Nexen brands direct, and hopes to add to that list at the SEMA Show and Global Tire Expo this year.
“We’re always looking for new product,” he says. “What I’d really like is to get more of the major brands to sell us direct.”