Tire America Lives Again! Well, at Least Online

Bob Ulrich
Posted on July 5, 2018
The tireamerica.com tagline is "Your tires. Your way."
The tireamerica.com tagline is "Your tires. Your way."

Tire America is retailing tires again, thanks to TBC Corp. And like its former incarnation, it offers more brands than the norm.

First, some background. Tire America became a leading and progressive multi-regional tire retailer in the 1980s under founder Robert Ewing. It was one of the first retailers to market many brands, which included those marketed by Private Brands Ltd., itself a subsidiary of Tire America.

As you might expect, it was able to offer so many brands by keeping an average inventory of 4,000 tires at each store.

Tire America changed tire retailing in other ways, as well. It was one of the first large retailers with a low cost, high volume strategy, yet it tended to cater to upscale consumers and women, with nice showrooms. It brought a sort of professionalism to our industry. Tire America also advertised and promoted its tires heavily.

His innovative practices were the reason Ewing was elected to the Tire Industry Association Hall of Fame in 2009.

The fall of Tire America started in 1987, when Ewing sold the company's 60 stores, located in the mid-western and mid-Atlantic United States, to Western Auto Supply Co. Although Western Auto adopted a number of Tire America's merchanding and marketing techniques, it wasn't enough to save the company, which sold out to Sears, Roebuck & Co. in 1988.

Interestingly, prior to its sale to Sears, Western Auto purchased NTW Inc. and its 52 National Tire Warehouse outlets. (Some of you may remember those "fun" pricing battles between Tire America and NTW.)

Under Sears, the number of outlets grew. In 1997, Sears transformed the 275 Tire America and NTW stores into the NTB (National Tire & Battery) chain, and Tire America was no more. In 2003, TBC Corp. acquired all the NTB locations.

That brings us to the present. TBC quiently opened a new operating company under an old name, Tire America, earlier this year. The online company retails tires through tireamerica.com. TBC supports tireamerica.com with millions of tires in stock; some 1,413 affiliated installers help with installation.

The average independent tire dealer sells between 13 and 15 tire brands. The new Tire America offers 24 brands: BFGoodrich, Bridgestone, Continental, Cooper, Cordovan, Custom 428, Dunlop, Epic, Firestone, General, Goodyear, Hankook, Kumho, Michelin, Mud Claw, Nexen, Nitto, Ohtsu, Performer, Pirelli, Sumitomo, Uniroyal, Velozza and Yokohama.

And so Tire America lives again. And, coincidentally, so does NTW, also in a different format.

When Michelin North America Inc. bought 50% of TBC Corp. from Sumitomo Corporation of Americas last February, the result was the second largest tire wholesaler in the U.S.

What did the partners call the new entity? National Tire Wholesale, or NTW.

Related Topics: Inventory management, light truck tires, NTW, passenger tires, private brand tires, Sears, TBC, Tire America

Bob Ulrich Editor
Comments ( 3 )
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  • Sherry Clay Marcoe

     | about 3 months ago

    As many of us hate to see old familiar names go away, we were always well taken care of by Carroll Tire Company. Our oldest son went to work for them in Atlanta and after they became part of TBC he still had a role in the company. We will always be grateful for the support and opportunities Jay was given. He came from a family owned business that managed to survive for 60 years. We have many fond memories of those days. Our father, Jeff Clay, trained us all well.

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