ST Tires Contribute to Moore’s Tire Sales' Success

Aug. 18, 2021

With 12 warehouses and a wholesale tire operation that covers much of New York and Pennsylvania, Moore’s Tire Sales Inc. is experiencing a big business boom. In the first three months of 2021, owner Bill Watkins said the company recorded a $4 million increase in sales. And at the start of the second quarter, the 43-person sales team hit its monthly quota more than a week ahead of schedule.

It’s not that he doesn’t have competition.

“My biggest competition in upstate New York and Pennsylvania is the big guys, it’s ATD, TireHub — the big national wholesalers. When it comes down to it, there’s no issue there. We can outservice them. We can outsupply them.”

And that’s what his team did in 2020, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We didn’t shut down one day. We didn’t lay anyone off or let anybody go. Our salesmen stayed on the road and did their jobs. I think we got a lot of customers that appreciated us being there and taking care of them. We feel like that’s one of the reasons we’ve grown like crazy this year. Last year we had a 3%-4% increase in sales.

“We’re kind of a quiet giant,” Watkins says.

Moore’s Tire Sales was founded in 1964, the same year Watkins was born. So even though he can’t claim to have been there from the start, he has been an employee of the company for 35 years. He notes he’s third in line for most seniority. When Watkins started working at Moore’s Tire Sales it had four locations. He bought the business in 2009..

It’s grown into a network of a dozen warehouses, plus four retail stores — one in the business’ hometown of Owego, N.Y., another in Sherburne, N.Y., and two more that the company acquired in the Buffalo market years ago. The Buffalo-area stores operate under their original Reid’s Tires name.

And while most of the company’s business is focused on passenger and light truck tire sales, Watkins says specialty trailer (ST) tires play an important, year-round role in the Moore’s Tire Sales strategy.

In his market, there’s a lot of recreational uses for ST tires, with trailers for boats, jet skis, ATVs and side-by-sides. In the mountains of Upstate New York, as soon as the first snow covers the ground it's snowmobile season, and there are trailers to haul those, too. “There’s a lull in the middle of the summer, but in the spring and fall, we’re busy with (ST tires.)”

In any given year the company sells upwards of 28,000 ST tires, and over the last decade, Watkins says the vast majority of those tires  — as many as 22,000 units a year — have come from Triangle Tire USA.

“I’ve had no issue with the quality of the product. Triangle makes a quality product. We had one small batch years ago (that had a problem,) but it was nice to see how Triangle stepped up and took care of them for us. It was up and above what I’ve ever seen from any manufacturer. They instantly took care of it with no issues, and there’s been no problem before that or after that.”

Watkins says his typical wholesale customer is a “mom and pop shop,” a privately-owned automotive repair business that usually has one or two employees, but sometimes has three or four. A lot of these businesses are built next to the owner’s home. Watkins says they’re loyal to Moore’s Tire Sales, and they trust his sales team’s recommendations. Once they have a good experience with those recommended tires, they commit to the brand.

“They’re more loyal. They care,” he says. “I send the same salesman to the same customer five days a week. My people know their kids, when they graduate, when they go on vacation (and) they become part of that garage. It’s worked out very well for us.”

Those wholesale route drivers also deliver tires to some national branded stores, like Monro Inc. locations. And even though Moore’s Tire Sales might only serve as the middleman delivering tires purchased on a tire manufacturer program, Watkins says it “gets our butt in the door and we sell them other things. So when that Monro or that Mr. Tire or Tire Choice needs a ST tire or a lawn and garden tire,” Watkins says they buy it from his team.

There has been one problem this year with the tire dealership’s ST tire business — but it’s a problem plaguing virtually every tire dealer across the country: product shortages. Shipments are delayed and fill rates are poor, Watkins says.

But when he has product to sell, there are some stand-outs in the ST tire market. He says Triangle’s 14-ply ST tires are popular — the TR653 and TRT01S both come in size ST235/85R16. Another popular size is the 10-ply ST225/75R15.

Growing in Buffalo

Between winter and summer activities, there’s demand for ST tires year round in the Moore’s Tire Sales markets of New York and Pennsylvania, says owner Bill Watkins.

Moore’s Tire Sales Inc. is serving 4,000 wholesale customers from a dozen warehouses in New York and Pennsylvania with 110-plus trucks delivering tires each day. The company has about 170 employees.

And in 2021, owner Bill Watkins is opening another new warehouse to service the Buffalo, N.Y. market. The 50,000 square-foot space he purchased will replace a rented warehouse with about 27,000 square feet. The Cheektowaga warehouse will supply tires to the company’s two Reid’s Tires retail stores, but also serve wholesale customers in the region.

Watkins says he knows some are only impressed by much larger warehouses — some as large as a million square feet —  but he says the problem with those mega spaces is that leaves “a lot of room to leave tires in the corners that roll as fast. I turn my inventory over a lot.”

As for Buffalo, when asked if there’s something special happening in that tire market that warrants a warehouse nearly double the size, Watkins says — not really.

“We seem to be growing in the Buffalo market. We’ve been growing everywhere. But in the last year to year-and-a-half things have been going really well. We seem to be gaining ground in market share up there.”

About the Author

Joy Kopcha | Managing Editor

After more than a dozen years working as a newspaper reporter in Kansas, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, Joy Kopcha joined Modern Tire Dealer as senior editor in 2014. She has covered murder trials, a prison riot and more city council, county commission, and school board meetings than she cares to remember.