TireHub CEO: New distribution venture to focus on customer service
ATLANTA — As TireHub L.L.C. establishes itself as the newest player in the tire distribution arena after opening for business July 1, TireHub CEO Peter Gibbons told Tire Business that he is excited about what the operation has to offer: a united sales team, an updated web portal and improved customer service.
“We see ourselves as a customer service-driven business. We intend to build a culture around being passionate about providing great service and a great partnership to dealers and retailers and making sure that we help their businesses and they see us as a key part of helping them grow their business,” Mr. Gibbons said.
The national distributor, a joint venture of Bridgestone Americas Inc. and Goodyear, started accepting customer orders July 1 for Bridgestone and Goodyear product lines, as well as Toyo-brand products.
Sales teams for both tire makers have been transitioning to the role of selling both companies’ products.
“So you have a unique experience here where you got two sales teams who, beforehand, were in competition and now have joined together as part of this new exciting enterprise,” Mr. Gibbons said.
“…they have the chance to sell products from both great legacy companies, Goodyear and Bridgestone, and we combined these product ranges at TireHub and the sales teams that sell both ranges. So what went on was understanding new customers, new products, getting to know your colleagues.
“The passion and the energy that this has unleashed is remarkable. I’ve been involved in a lot of transitions and transformations across my career and across the world,” he added, “and what I’m seeing here is a release of energy and mobilization of people to do something very new and bring that passion to bear to help dealers and retailers have a great experience and being supplied and being supported by TireHub.”
Mr. Gibbons joined the new venture from CP Kelco, a division of biopolymers producr J.M. Huber Corp., where he was a director. He also held executive vice president positions at Mattel Inc. and Starbucks Corp.
The Bridgestone and Goodyear distribution and delivery operations are operating under the TireHub brand and soon will be rebadged with TireHub signage.
“As a company, we will be badged as TireHub, we will be branded as TireHub and over time we’ll make sure that is how people get to know it and how they see it, and that TireHub stands for great service and great partnership with dealers and retailers,” Mr. Gibbons said.
He said the company, which employs more than 1,000, is focusing first on customer service, including improving fulfillment rates.
“We’ve been building a team with great logistics and operational experience to help us have the kind of service levels, the fill rates and the response times that will make us a true partner to dealers and retailers across the U.S.”
Helping to fulfill that goal is the launch of the TireHub web portal where dealers can access product availability, delivery options and online payments. Mr. Gibbons said the new portal is considered an upgrade to those previously offered by the two parent companies.
“We see the portal as being something we believe will help increase the availability of good information and tools to help our dealers and retailers,” he said.
“We’ve been absolutely thrilled by how well this has gone,” Mr. Gibbons added. “I’ve been involved in a lot of big transitions and transformations and I have to say that preparation into this and the attention to building out IT systems, the training tools, getting familiar with products, deploying all types of IT hardware and software — it’s a huge undertaking and it’s going remarkably well.
“The key for us, having said that, is to find out what customers think. And so we are reaching out to customers daily — many, many customers — to make sure that we have a feel for how they see this going because the ultimate test is how they feel about this. So we’re excited about how well it’s gone in terms of the mechanics of setting it up. But the real test is making sure we understand how the customers see us and that we get their feedback and that we’re responding to how they see us evolving and make sure that we are making them happy.”
TireHub is offering Bridgestone’s and Goodyear’s portfolio of brands, as well as Toyo tires, which Bridgestone’s Firestone Complete Auto Care retail stores have been selling for several years. But Mr. Gibbons didn’t rule out carrying other competitors’ brands in the future.
“Changes will evolve and we’ll learn from our customers what their needs are.… I’m sure there will be moments when we will re-evaluate some of that strategy of how to remain competitive in the marketplace and make sure that our customers can buy the tires they want when they want them. If that means some evolution of the product range or the brand range, then that could possibly happen,” Mr. Gibbons said.