Over the past 50 years, K&M Tire Inc., which started as a single-store dealership, has evolved into one of North America’s largest independent tire distributors, with 31 centers throughout 27 states.
K&M Tire celebrated that achievement and its 50th anniversary during its annual meeting, which took place this past week in Columbus, Ohio.
The event, which was attended by hundreds of K&M Tire customers and guests, included a large trade show, motivational speakers, several info sessions and a kick-off session during which K&M Tire CEO Ken Langhals and his daughter, K&M Tire President Cheryl Gossard, shared their business philosophy.
"We want to impact our customers by letting our family (of employees) know that we should always do what’s fair,” said Langhals. “We want to make sure we do the right thing. Our customers are part of our extended family. We want them to grow and be the best they can be.”
K&M has grown its footprint steadily via a number of acquisitions. (The company bought Cadillac Wholesale Tire Inc., a large distributor based in Cadillac, Mich., last summer.)
Gossard told attendees that acquisition opportunities have materialized as a result of K&M Tire’s unwavering focus on its “mission. My goal for K&M over the next few years is to always focus on our mission and values. We have to make sure that we always keep the customer in mind. Instead of looking at the map and planning our next acquisition, it’s… making sure we focus on our customers and are doing a good job, each and every day.
“We love growth,” she continued. “Our acquisitions are fun and exciting. But I feel these things will just happen.”
During the two-day meeting, K&M Tire also announced updates to its Mr. Tire program group, which encompasses more than 1,600 locations across the U.S., according to Dave Miller, K&M Tire’s director of marketing.
“In mid-2019, we unveiled a new digital platform for all consumer rebates,” he told attendees. “Only you can administer these rebates. They are genuinely exclusive and are for you.”
The platform lets consumers “input their email addresses and trace exactly where in the process their rebate is. In 2019, the turnaround rate for our rebates was two to four weeks,” in contrast to typical rebate return intervals, which can be much longer.
In late-2019, Miller said K&M Tire launched an instant rebate program to help Mr. Tire members “close sales by giving them the opportunity to sell tires on the spot and administer the rebate here and now.” (K&M Tire carries 51 tire brands, in total.)
The company also is ramping up its social media advertising. Moving forward, social media platforms will be “the first place where we’ll administer advertising,” said Miller.
In addition, K&M Tire has added geo-fencing to its marketing toolkit. “Picture a 30-mile radius around your facility,” Miller told attendees. Through geo-fencing, the distributor will be able to feed Mr. Tire ads to customers within that zone, plus other, tailored geographies.
“If you’re a dealer who likes to control your own advertising, we also have (custom) ad packages. This is a tremendous way to increase traffic in your own back yard.”
And for Mr. Tire members who sell medium truck tires, K&M Tire has rolled out a truck tire volume bonus program, he added.
“Our success is directly related to your success,” Langhals told attendees. “You are the backbone of this business. Without you, our customers, there is no K&M Tire.”