Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is already starting to deliver on its promise to offer commercial vehicle fleets more options and value since its acquisition of Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. last year. This is according to company executives who recently sat down with FleetOwnerto share updates on how the U.S.’s largest tire maker is integrating the Cooper brand.
“You've got these two great Ohio companies that have come together,” Cary Budzinski, Goodyear senior director of North American commercial sales, said during an interview at American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council’s annual meeting in Orlando.
Bringing Cooper into the Goodyear portfolio filled a mid-tier commercial vehicle tire “gap” that Budzinski said will expose more fleets to the Akron-based company’s products. The acquisition, first announced in February 2021, was finalized last June.
“Over those nine months, there’s been a flurry of integration activity,” Gary Schroeder, executive director of Cooper Commercial at Goodyear, told FleetOwner. “One of the things that we wanted to try to define—first for ourselves and then for the marketplace—was the brands: How do the Cooper suite of brands and the Goodyear suite of brands fit together?”
That work has been going on behind the scenes to see how the premium Goodyear tires and mid-tier Cooper Tires can bolster the rubber company’s offering, along with its economy brands of Kelly Tires and Cooper’s Roadmaster Tires. Schroeder said they’ve also worked extensively with Goodyear and Cooper tire dealers.
“Nine months can seem like a lot of time, but when you’re doing an integration this big, it’s actually a very short period of time,” he said.
More tiers of tires
But in that time, Goodyear has segmented its offering into three tiers (premium, mid-tier, and economy), offering tire solutions for four main applications (long-haul, regional, urban, and mixed services). “Goodyear is clearly the premium brand,” Schroeder noted. “Then when you get into that mid-tier—which a lot of people like to call tier-two—you have some (Goodyear) Marathon on there, but Cooper is very prominent in that section. And then on the more entry or economy level, you have Roadmaster and Kelly together.”
“We’ve had the Goodyear and Kelly brands—very strong brands, well known in the marketplace—but the mid-tier may have been the soft spot for Goodyear,” he added. “So with the acquisition, Cooper comes in and bolsters that whole mid-tier section—whether it’s OE, fleet, or just pure replacement.”
Budzinski said the company’s expanded suite is opening up Goodyear to more fleet customers. “When we go to a very large national account customer, we lead with Goodyear premium,” he explained. “They typically want to be on the cutting edge. They understand the whole value proposition with the more durable casing for retreading and that whole package.
“Now, what this allows us is the opportunity to go talk to more fleets that maybe I didn’t have that opportunity in the past because they may not have been interested,” Budzinski continued. “It may have been a smaller regional fleet or even a local fleet with less than 50 pieces of equipment.”
Budzinski said that now fleet customers are seeing more of Goodyear’s expanded Cooper, Roadmaster, and Kelly offerings at its 2,500 stores and within its tire dealer network. The next step is marketing the correct tires to the right customers to help them find the best fit for their applications.
That will be fine-tuned as Cooper tire distributions are folded into Goodyear’s operations.
“We have the branding figured out,” Schroeder said. “Now we’re communicating that out to our dealers in the market. We’re really getting heavier into the distribution side of this with the legacy Goodyear, the legacy Cooper dealers. How do we make all that work the best? There’s still work to do. But we have come out and told everybody that our Cooper brand—the Pro, Work, and Severe series—is available in the Goodyear Commercial Tire Service Centers, as well as select dealers.”
This synergy will expand from the dealer showrooms to the Goodyear labs. “Our engineers are really starting to work more closely together, looking at what products are coming out in the next three to five years at Cooper and what Goodyear has coming out,” Schroeder said. “We’re reshuffling that deck a little bit so that in the overall portfolio, we’re getting the right products— not just what’s good for Cooper or just what’s good for Goodyear.”
Some of the latest tires from Goodyear engineers are focused on final-mile delivery. At two major trucking industry shows in March—TMC in Orlando and NTEA’s Work Truck Week in Indianapolis—the rubber company unveiled two tires designed specifically for that delivery segment, including its first tire created for battery-electric trucks.