TAIPEI, Taiwan (BRAIN) — With a new general manager and a ground-up grassroots plan in place, French tire company Hutchinson is focusing on growing its North American market in 2014. Hutchinson is one of the world's oldest tire manufacturers, founded in France in 1890.
Roy Hough was hired to take the helm in the U.S. in November 2013. Formerly the national sales manager at Advanced Sports International, which owns Fuji, Kestrel and other brands, Hough said that while Hutchinson has always been regarded as an excellent tire company in the U.S., it has also flown under the radar.
“In the past, the company relied on a top-down distributor model for getting product out there, with the hope that retailers would buy it,” he said. “And it was always hard to get momentum that way.”
Hough said that the new strategy includes growing from the ground up, primarily by expanding dealer focus and "influencing the influencers." Through its “Tubeless Nation” campaign, Hutchinson hopes to get more people riding its tires. “The goal is to build brand loyalty to help drive demand and dealer sales,” he said. “So we will be sponsoring events and teams as well as providing a purchasing program for shop employees.”
Hutchinson will also work to strengthen relationships with IBDs and distributors. “Even though its a French company, there won't be a disconnect,” said Hough. “We have a great team on the ground here that can work directly with IBDs and distributors to support them in every way, from product availability to a painless warranty process.”
“We hope to win by providing great customer service and a great product,” he continued. “We'll also be shouting our message from the rooftops.”
Hough also said that aggressive OE sales are also part of Hutchinson's plan for U.S. growth, and that it's looking toward increasing its spec' with a number of companies in 2015. Hutchinson is a pioneer in tubeless tire technology and was one of the first companies to bring it to market. Road and tubeless road tires currently account for the majority of Hutchinson's U.S. sales, but Hough hopes that increased brand loyalty will drive sales up in mountain and cyclocross as well.
“It's important to us that consumers know that Hutchinson makes all tires in all sizes,” he said. “Which is why we are making a big push to sponsor athletes in all disciplines and support all kinds of events, from triathlon to downhill mountain biking.”