The tire industry grew just 2 percent in 2005, yet Terry’s Tire Town increased its revenue by more than 20 percent, created 15 new jobs and opened a new warehouse and a new retail store. President Will Tolerton says that the secret to the company’s success is customer advocacy.
The $150 million company has two mottos: “Partners in prosperity” and “Success one client at a time.” Although those mottos have helped Terry’s Tire Town prosper during it 34-year history, they have been even more relevant recently. At a time when the tire industry is consolidating, Terry’s Tire Town has, in a large part, succeeded by taking care of its customers.
“We recognized that our customers, which are primarily independent tire retailers, were in major jeopardy of being destroyed by the big box mass merchandisers and national retail chains,” says Tolerton, who has been president since 1998. “What we have done is provided them with training to separate themselves from the mass merchandiser.”
Terry’s Tire Town spent more than $400,000 in 2005 training independent tire retailers. Training includes everything from phone selling techniques to technical skills, and making sure that all of the company’s technicians are and remain ASE or TIA certified.
Terry’s Tire Town also has an in-house advertising department to create and place ads for its partners, and it sends a customer service team to each retail store for a week to experience what the tire retailer deals with on a daily basis. Tolerton does everything he can for his customers, because if they don’t succeed, Terry’s Tire Town doesn’t succeed.
In the past 10 years, 20 percent of independent tire dealers have left the tire business; however, of the 400 dealers who partner with Terry’s Tire Town, only three have gone out of business during that same time.
The company rolled out a new innovation in 2005 called Terry’s Direct to further help its independent tire retailers succeed. The business-to-business Web site allows customers to search the company’s more than 200,000-tire inventory by size, brand and vehicle.
“You can select whatever type of an automobile you have, select one of the wheels from our inventory and it will show a picture of what your car would look like,” says Tolerton.
This Web site has been a tremendous selling tool for independent dealers because customers can see what their car will look with a variety of tires at a variety of prices. These prices are one size fits all, Tolerton says, separating his company from the national retailers who often tell consumers one price, then later hit them with extra costs.
If a dealer doesn’t have an item in stock, Terry’s Tire Town will generally deliver it within 24 hours, and it delivers to more than 1,500 customers daily. And if a mistake is made, the company will send a delivery person up to 180 miles each direction to deliver a single tire to fix a mistake.
That kind of service has paid off. In 2005, Terry’s Tire Town opened a 100,000-square-foot distribution center in Richmond, Va., which made $7 million in sales last year, and Tolerton is projecting $18 million in sales for 2006. It also began construction of a 35,000-square-foot retread shop in Alliance and opened a retail store in Hartville.
These expansions made it possible for Terry’s Tire Town to grow from $129 million in revenue in 2004 to $148 million in 2005 in a struggling industry.
But Tolerton never lets his success go to his head. He has been a Little League baseball coach for seven years and sponsors from two to five baseball teams a year. The company also donates to organizations including Alliance schools, to which it gave more than $20,000.
“We appreciate the support of the Greater Stark County area for the last 34 years,” says Tolerton. “We plan to continue to give back to the community, and we appreciate many more years of support.” HOW TO REACH: Terry’s Tire Town, www.terrystiretown.com