ITDG: 10 years and still growing

May 22, 2013

The Independent Tire Dealer Group LLC (ITDG) presented its highest honor, The Chairman’s Award, to Michael Cox, the group’s CEO and president, during its annual meeting in Desert Springs, Calif., in April.

Current ITDG Chairman Chris Wyborny, managing partner of Ramona Tire & Service Centers, and last year’s ITDG chairman, Richard Howard, co-owner of Bruce’s Tire Inc., jointly presented Cox the award. They said he was receiving the honor for the outstanding performance he has delivered for the group during his 10-year tenure as its leader.

Cox took over the group when it was a regional group in four states with $48 million in combined purchases. In 2012, ITDG members — affectionately known as the Band of Brothers — had purchases of $171 million, and as of the first quarter of 2013, had members in 31 states. The group is targeting joint purchases of more than $200 million in 2013. “When we decided to grow the organization 10 years ago, our guiding focus was to build a strategic advantage by designing a business system on the principles of value, loyalty and partnership, both for our members and our vendor partners,” said Cox. “As we created value... the result was loyalty.

“As a cause, loyalty initiates a series of economic effects. Revenues and market share grow as the best dealers join the group, building repeat sales and referrals stimulating sustainable growth. And loyal members/vendors behave like partners. They stabilize the organization.”

The ITDG, under Cox’s direction, started a captive insurance company and a leasing company to help its members. It also has expanded globally, with its partnership with point S Development out of Europe.

“If the first quarter of 2013 is any indication, we are positioned to continue our record of growth, both top and bottom line — and just as important, growth in our membership/partner base!”

Diamondback distribution deal

ITDG also announced the exclusive distribution and marketing of the Diamondback passenger and light truck brand of tires in the United States.

The buying group is working in concert with Husky Tire Corp. of San Antonio, Texas, which provides logistical support expertise.

“We’ve had great success in growing our business by adding new members in new geographies over the past several years,” says Ed Long, ITDG vice president of sales and marketing. “Independent dealers gravitate toward programs that are transparent and straightforward. ITDG has very little overhead to operate the group... everything is pushed back out to the dealer with up-front competitive buying programs and bonuses at the end of the year.”

Long said the exclusive Diamondback brand program will enable the group to further penetrate existing markets and expand into new markets that may have been more difficult in the past due to brand conflicts. ITDG members also can sell Diamondback truck tires, although their distribution is not exclusive.

Trade show floor

Not all ITDG members can sell Delinte, a brand marketed by Sentaida International Inc. In areas where there are conflicts, Sentaida will not offer it.

However, any of ITDG’s retail members can sell the Landsail line. That includes the new Landsail CLV6 all-season SUV tire, and the Landsail LS588 all-season summer tire, which were showcased at the ITDG trade show. Both tires feature asymmetric tread patterns. introduced the “RimText Wheel Quick Quote” system to facilitate getting a quote to replace wheels. Texting a part number or picture of a customer’s damaged stock wheel to 951-RimText will enable shops to obtain an accurate quote on factory original replacement wheels more quickly than placing a phone call or by searching a website. The company’s goal is to quote a replacement price before an estimate is even begun back in the office, according to President Billy Eordekian.    ■

About the Author

Greg Smith | Publisher

A 36-year veteran of automotive trade publishing, Greg Smith has held various publishing positions at the management level. He has worked extensively on both the editorial and publishing sides of the business and is a recognized expert in the aftermarket and tire industries. As such, he is a frequent speaker at many industry events. He has traveled internationally as an advocate for the industries he serves.

Currently as publisher of Modern Tire Dealer, Greg is responsible for the brand’s business operations.  MTD is where Greg got his start, and through most of the last three decades, has led it to tire market prominence.  

To support education in the tire industry, Greg leads MTD in its sponsorship of the Tire Industry Association’s Certified Instructor Training Tour, a program designed to train the trainer in proper safety and step-by-step procedures for proper wheel installation. As further reinforcement, Greg created the Performance Handbook, a how-to publication on proper ways to mount, balance and work with performance tires. 

To help recognize outstanding tire dealers, Greg helped establish the MTD Dealer of the Year award over 20 years ago. The award provides a deserving tire dealer with recognition for accomplishments both within the industry and in the dealer’s local community. 

Greg helped launch Auto Service Professional magazine in 2010. The primary focus of Auto Service Professional is to provide high-level information to an audience of more than 150,000 automotive professional technicians whether they are business owners or technicians. 

From his early years in the market, Greg has been active participating on industry committees and boards. Among the early ones were APAA and ASIA, and has since participated in AWDA, SEMA, NTDRA, TIA and TANA.