Tire Rack, a South Bend, Ind.-based provider of tires and accessories, opened its Liberty County distribution center in Tradeport East in 2005. Nearly seven years later, company officials still are pleased they found the right location at the right time.
When Tire Rack sought a home for an additional distribution center in the Southeastern United States, the company conducted a comprehensive site search, according to Tire Rack Vice President Matt Edmonds.
“Our primary requirement was to be able to reach the southern tip of Florida with one-day UPS ground service. Locations in the state of Florida were immediately ruled out because of Nexus implications. Therefore, we keyed in on potential sites in Georgia and South Carolina, but we ultimately decided the Liberty County Development Authority’s Tradeport East Business Center in Georgia offered us the most strategic location to serve our customers and was attractive in terms of the available infrastructure,” he said.
Tire Rack opened its 242,000-square-foot distribution center, which is expandable to 500,000 total square feet, in Tradeport East in December 2005. The Georgia distribution center is one of six, with additional facilities in Indiana, Nevada, Delaware, Louisiana and Connecticut, encompassing more than 2 million total square feet.
“We started building out our distribution network in 1991, but our company history dates back to 1979 when we opened a single-point retail operation in Indianapolis, Ind.,” Edmonds said. “In 1984, we really began to focus on mail order, and we moved the business to South Bend. Today, Tire Rack is still a family owned and operated business, which is led by our patriarch and matriarch, Pete and Wilma Veldman, Dutch immigrants and American entrepreneurs.”
The South Bend headquarters focuses on company functions such as sales, customer service, marketing, purchasing and information technology. In addition, the headquarters is home to Tire Rack’s largest distribution center, which recently was expanded to 670,000 square feet.
Tire Rack targets potential customers with print, television and online ads, and, more recently, the company entered the world of social media. Tire Rack recently launched a new campaign called “Better Place,” in which humor is incorporated to appeal to a broader audience.
“While we use a variety of different mediums to get our message out to potential customers, we have found that 95 percent of our customers touch our website at some point in the process,” Edmonds said. “We do receive a very high volume of telephone calls, because a significant number of our customers still prefer to speak with a sales team representative to place their orders. Our team of over 100 sales representatives has firsthand experience testing the products we sell, so they are indeed experts when it comes to making recommendations based on the customers’ needs.”
Tire Rack values customer feedback. The company has received 2.7 billion miles of data from its consumer surveys.
Customer satisfaction is of the utmost importance to Tire Rack, according to Edmonds.
“Our goal is to get the right products at competitive prices to our customers as soon as possible. We can reach over 85 percent of the United States’ population with one-day ground service. The remainder of the population receives two-day service out of our strategically placed DCs,” he said.
Tire Rack’s distribution center operations are similar for all six of the company’s facilities. Truckloads of tires come in one side of the building and individual orders go out on the other side of the facility.
“Out of our Georgia DC, our employees ensure orders are being processed and shipped in an accurate and timely manner to our customers throughout the Southeast,” Edmonds said. “At the Tradeport East facility, we have assembled a great team led by a DC manager, several office personnel and DC workers for shipping and receiving. We really appreciate how the Liberty County Development Authority supported us by providing us with the right location at the right time for our Georgia DC, which has allowed us to continue to provide our customers with the best service possible.”