Turbo Puts ‘Differentiated Strategy’ in Motion

May 6, 2024

Turbo Wholesale Tires LLC is using proximity, products and a new associate dealer program to deliver added value to customers.

This, in turn, will create even more differentiation between Turbo and its competitors, Turbo CEO Phillip Kane told MTD before the company’s recent open house at its distribution center in Oak Park, Mich. (More than 600 people attended the evening-long event.)

Turbo, which is backed by Kingswood Capital Management LP, acquired the Oak Park distribution center when it purchased Tire Wholesalers Inc. (TWI) from the Kogel family, TWI’s founders and owners, last summer.

Turbo has two more distribution centers in Michigan – one in Kalamazoo and another in Cadillac – plus a warehouse in Salt Lake City, Utah; a warehouse in Hammond, Ind.; and another distribution center in its hometown of Irwindale, Calif.

The Oak Park distribution center covers the eastern United States, said Kane, who added that “we’ll likely expand” Turbo’s distribution footprint, possibly through another acquisition.

Kane told MTD that products will be another area of differentiation for Turbo.

“We’ve committed to aggressively expanding (our) product screen across” the company’s proprietary Lexani, Lionhart and Rolling Big Power brands, “mostly by adding new, higher-mix lines,” said Kane.

“We believe that doing so not only creates greater separation” between Turbo and its competitors, “but most importantly, it creates additional sales and profit opportunities” for regional distributors and local tire dealers. (Regional wholesalers make up the majority of Turbo’s customers.)

Last year, Turbo promised to add more than 300 SKUs to its overall product range “and the roll-out is going very well. Of the specific lines we announced, all are either in the market, in production or in testing. For example, our Lexani run-on-flat and Rolling Big Power R/T (rugged-terrain) lines are performing tremendously well.”

During the Oak Park open house, Turbo unveiled the Lexani Volt-ec, an ultra-high performance all-season tire designed and built specifically for electric vehicles. The Volt-ec, which also can be used on hybrid and internal combustion engine-powered vehicles, is available in 22 popular sizes and comes with a 40,000-mile warranty.

“It’s part of our differentiated strategy, which is to create separation between ourselves and our competitors ... and that includes developing the types of products that are typically expected from upper tier-three brands – not mid-tier-three brands,” Kane told MTD.

He added that all-terrain and highway-terrain light truck products under the Rolling Big Power banner are in testing and a line of TBR tires, which also will be sold under the Rolling Big Power brand, will arrive at the end of the second quarter of 2024.

“In addition, we’ve introduced handfuls of new sizes in all of our brands that extend the vitality of each. And looking at 2024/2025, we’re not slowing down. Our team is working on a handful of initiatives that will create greater distinction between our brands, while giving our customers and the end user many more opportunities to buy our tires.”

Turbo’s products are “primarily made” in Thailand, said Kane. “If you were to go to one of these plants, beginning with having a visit with the leading research and development and design people in these plants, continuing through to the plant itself... you’re going to find the most state-of-the-art tire equipment that’s available for purchase anywhere on the planet. And as part of final-finish, they’re inspecting every single tire. So as a result, the product that’s coming out of these plants is phenomenal.”

The next pillar of Turbo’s strategy is further development of its Ignite associate dealer program, which was unveiled in January 2024.

When Turbo introduced Ignite, Todd Pickens, the company’s chief commercial officer, told MTD that the program “will run like a (tire) manufacturer’s program, where an associate dealer can go into a portal, see what they’ve earned, track how they’re doing and what they’re buying and get paid – a one-stop shop.”

Kane said Ignite “is off to a terrific start. Customers love the simplicity of the program, which is one of the key differentiators we sought to create. Several hundred retailers have already” enrolled in Ignite, which is administered through Turbo’s wholesaler customers.

“It’s another rung in the ladder of our differentiated strategy. It’s not separation for the sake of separation or separation for the sake of saying, “We’re different.’ It’s about separation for the sake of creating value for the independent tire dealer. It’s about saying, ‘Hey, Mister Independent Tire Dealer, here’s an associate dealer program that creates value for you. Here’s a range of new (product) offerings that enables you to collect more.

Here’s greater proximity to our products that enables you to get to them faster, which enables you to stock less.”

These elements should squarely position Turbo’s brands in the upper echelon of the third tier, Kane told MTD.

“The market is going to classify you where you aptly belong, so if you don’t have certain things that qualify you as an upper tier-three brand, you’re not going to be an upper tier- three brand. All of the things we’ve been talking about – whether they’re certain tire lines, an associate dealer program, a certain quality of people in your organization, proximity of distribution ... all of those things go into that differentiated strategy, which leads to the market saying, ‘Yes, you are a credible offering.’ And that’s really what we’re after.”

Click here to view a gallery of photos from Turbo’s recent open house event

About the Author

Mike Manges | Editor

Mike Manges is Modern Tire Dealer’s editor. A 25-year tire industry veteran, he is a three-time International Automotive Media Association award winner and holds a Gold Award from the Association of Automotive Publication Editors. Mike has traveled the world in pursuit of stories that will help independent tire dealers move their businesses forward. Before rejoining MTD in September 2019, he held corporate communications positions at two Fortune 500 companies and served as MTD’s senior editor from 2000 to 2010.