Tire Factory Inc. members have rebranded the vast majority of their 206 stores to the Point S banner at a breakneck pace. And leaders of the Oregon-based cooperative are unveiling new programs with two big hopes: the momentum of current members continues, and more independent tire dealers join their network.
More than 85% of the group’s current members have rebranded, or are nearly finished with the process, says Walter Lybeck, CEO of Tire Factory, which joined the global Point S network in June 2015. Lybeck says the pace that members have adopted the blue and green Point S branding is “way above my expectations.” Tire Factory tapped its tire vendors for financial support to help dealers rebrand their stores. Each store was eligible for up to $25,000 to help pay for the switch, but most members have invested far more than that in paint, signage and improvements. Collectively, he says dealers have spent $10 million to refresh and enhance 182 stores.
With the bulk of the transition complete, Lybeck says the group is ready to focus on growth, and remains committed to a goal stated a year ago at the group’s annual meeting: for Point S to become the third largest network of independent tire dealers in North America. (There’s a similar boom of Point S stores happening in Canada.)
Among the newest dealers to join the Point S banner in the U.S. are David’s Discount Point S in Haskell, Okla. and Direct Discount in Stillwater, Okla. What makes those stores especially significant is they come with an existing distribution center. Lybeck says that distribution capability will allow the group to continue to expand in Oklahoma, and even neighboring states.
Improving delivery service was a big concern for dealers in northern California, and Lybeck says the group has purchased trucks to run daily routes to stores in that region. For that area dealers will have until 5 p.m. to place an order and have it delivered the next day from the Tire Factory warehouse in Portland, Ore. “We’re ready to implement that any day,” Lybeck says.
Bumping up delivery service is just one project on the table. Tire Factory also is developing its own online tire sales system. It’s hired a full-time professional trainer to expand educational offerings through its Point S University portal, and dealers also have access to market analysis data specific to their stores and markets.
But with every improvement, leaders say the group remains committed to its core focus – the independent dealer.
“We’re going to be consistently independent,” says Eric Gill, owner of 15 stores and chairman of the Tire Factory board of directors.