Pete’s Tire Barns Ventures Into Online Sales

Athol Daily News 4/17/2010
By Brian Gelinas and Staff Reporter

ORANGE — Continuing to find innovative ways to market its product, Pete’s Tire Barns Inc. has ventured into the world of on-line product sales with the launching on April 1 of an Internet store, which is accessible through the company’s Web site at www.petestire.com.

The move is one of several steps being employed to take advantage of 21st-century computer technology and social networking sites on the Web in order to expand the tire distributor’s customer base, both regionally and nationwide.

Aside from “opening the doors” on its Internet store, E-commerce Manager Amy Putnam and Ray Turilli, director of information technology and on-line marketing, have also established a company presence on Facebook and Twitter.

“It’s the wave of the future,” Putnam said recently.

Initially, the Internet store is offering on-line purchasing of a limited selection of the 20,000 items in the company’s inventory. Currently, Carlisle specialty tires are available on-line, with more brands to be added over the next few months. These include tires for landscaping, lawn and garden equipment; tractors; trailers; ATVs, utility vehicles, and go-carts; golf carts; and industrial equipment and off-road vehicles, such as hand trucks and forklifts.

“Ultimately, the goal is to offer all of our products on-line, but to start with, we picked the tire line that has the most appeal,” said Turilli, “because we’re not focusing just on New England, but nationwide.”

“Within twenty-four hours of launching the store, we made our first sale to someone from Minnesota,” Putnam added. “We had intended to test the site for a few days without any marketing and were surprised to have that sale so quickly.”

On-line orders can be shipped directly to a customer’s home, or at no additional charge to one of the company’s 16 retail stores that are located throughout New England. In addition, from now until the end of June any in-stock tires ordered that are under 150 pounds will be shipped free of charge via UPS ground services.

The plan is to expand the on-line store over time until “it becomes a twenty-four-hour store for us,” said Turilli, who added the company is also trying to appeal to a wider customer/fan base through its use of Facebook and Twitter.

After setting up the company’s retail profile page on Facebook, a kick-off promotion was held and within 12 days the number of page fans went from 0 to 500, said Putnam and Turilli. Of those 500 fans, five were randomly chosen to receive sweatshirts, hats and miniature statues of the Michelin Man.

In a take on the traveling yard gnome photo fad of the past several years, Putnam said that one winner, Athol native Jessica Hall, has taken her statue to various landmarks in the North Quabbin area, such as to the top of Mount Grace in Warwick, and taken photos and posted them on Pete’s Tire Barn’s Facebook page, which can be found at www.facebook.com/petestire.

Other promotional giveaways and contests are planned, with a Facebook photo contest currently underway. The contest asks persons to take creative pictures of their cars and tires, or themselves with their cars, and post them on Facebook. At the end of April, those who post the most creative, humorous or original photos will be chosen to receive a variety of prizes, which will be sent anywhere in the country. Participants do not need to be local and do not need to make a purchase.

“We’re trying to make it fun,” said Putnam, “and have people asking themselves, ‘Oh, I wonder what they’re going to give away next?'”

Putnam and Turilli stressed the company’s intent with Facebook and Twitter is to garner feedback and create an on-line forum for customer interaction.

“We’re trying to avoid spamming our fans and are limiting sales-oriented [postings and tweets],” said Turilli. “We’re not using [the sites] as a billboard for Pete’s Tire Barns.”

Of the company’s Facebook fan base (which currently numbers 560), Putnam pointed out that the median age range is 35 to 44, with about 61 percent being female and 38 percent being male. She added those statistics are helpful to the company with regard to its marketing efforts.

The company also has an Internet presence on LinkedIn, but “Facebook has proven to be the most interactive,” said Putnam.

Commenting on what Turilli brings to the company, Putnam said, “We are thrilled to have Ray Turilli on board with Pete’s Tire Barns as our new information technology director. As our business has grown, so has the need for someone solely dedicated to keeping the company up with the newest technology available so that we can better keep up with our customer’s needs. Ray brings with him many years of IT and e-commerce experience and, in the two months he has been here, we have already seen dramatic changes not in only in the way we interact with our customers, but also the way we communicate internally as a company.”

Putnam added that with so many locations, one of the biggest challenges is the way in which information is shared internally to keep the company uniform in its practices and policies. “Ray has implemented a new employee-only intranet Web site to be able to share a variety of information such as our employee handbooks, training material, new promotions, current sales and advertising campaigns, as well as updating the employees on new employees, promotions, and also some lighter information, such as employee milestones — marriages, births, and other personal achievements. All of this information can be accessed remotely and is proving to be an extremely valuable tool,” she said.

The e-commerce operation at Pete’s is currently a two-man operation, but it is expected to expand as the on-line store grows in the future.

“When Pete’s Tire Barns was started in 1968, no one could ever have imagined such a thing as the World Wide Web where you could literally research and buy your product from the convenience of your own home, or for that matter, from your cell phone,” said Putnam. “The advancements in technology and how we do business are ever-changing and, ten years from now, there will be new ways of doing business that we haven’t even dreamed of yet. This technology is not limited to any particular generation either. I know people in their 70s and 80s who are on-line. The bottom line is that we are in the business of serving our customers, and understanding the way in which they want to do business is vital to our growth.”

No More Spare Tire

No more donuts, the life and death of the spare tire.

It’s true, you’ve heard the death knell, as more and more car companies are shaving weight in order to raise fuel economy the spare tire is getting the boot. In place of a spare tire, they have put in a can of tire sealant and a pump. Let’s take a look at the difference between the two.

The spare tire is, well, a spare tire. Since its early days, the automobile came with a spare tire, back then punctures from stray horseshoe nails were common, now its curbs, nails and other road hazards and debris. Should you have a blowout or sidewall damage, you’ll be able to replace the damaged tire with the spare until you are able to get it fixed or replaced. The Mini Spare or “donut” tires can be driven up to 50mph and should only be driven up to 80 miles before they are replaced with a normal tire. Most cars and some light truck tires come with this type of spare which come mounted on a rim and fit conveniently in the truck of the vehicle.

The tire sealant and inflator kit, while they will fix a majority of tire punctures, won’t fix everything. The good news, filling a tire with sealant is a much less labor intensive generally it can be much faster. The bad news, if the rim is bent, if it is a large puncture or it’s a damaged sidewall, the damage won’t be fixed by the tire sealant. Unfortunately this leaves a higher likelihood of leaving you stranded.

Is there a good fix, not really, but there are steps you can take so that your tires are prepared for whatever the road has in store. 1. Check your tire pressure, how many times have you heard this before? Without proper tire pressure your tires can’t perform the way they were designed. You’ll get less gas mileage, be more susceptible to tire damage, and your tires will wear faster and less even. 2. Know where you’re going, driving through a construction site or the set of a transformers movie, is probably going to give you a flat tire. 3. Check your tread depth, with the penny test. If you put the head of a penny into your tire tread and it passes into the hair of Lincoln, then it’s time for new tires. When your tread depth is low, you’re more susceptible to tire damage. 4. Clear out the extra weight, most of us are driving around a glorified closet, clear it out. Remember when your car was new and there was nothing in it, go back to that. All the extra weight in your car adds up to lowered fuel economy and more wear and tear on the components (more weight is more work for the breaks and the suspension).

It’s not often that you’ll have to change or fix a flat, but, having the confidence that you’ll be able to do so when the time comes time is important. Waiting for a tow truck or AAA to come and fix your tire is not only time consuming and can be a costly service. A spare tire generally weighs in around 20-30 pounds for a “donut”, translating into a few extra pennies a year in extra gas expenditures’. Any money saved will quickly be lost if you should ever have to use a towing service. The spare tire is going to become more and more absent from new vehicles; would you feel comfortable without one?

Pete’s Tire Barns Donates Soccer Balls to Iraq

Athol Daily News 3/26/2009

Pete's Tire Barns Donates Soccer Balls
DONATION APPRECIATION — The 25-person U.S. Army Military Transition Team 2nd Division, Iraqi Army, Mosul, Iraq, recently received a number of donated soccer balls from Pete’s Tire Barns Inc. in Orange to be distributed to impoverished children in Iraq. The group sent a letter of appreciation and this photo to the company in response.

ORANGE — Pete’s Tire Barns Inc. recently donated a number of soccer balls to be distributed to impoverished children in Iraq.

In response, the company has received the following letter from the U.S. Army Military Transition Team 2nd Division, Iraqi Army, Mosul, Iraq, expressing appreciation for the donation:

“On behalf of all the Griffin Team, I want to thank the owners and managers of Pete’s Tire Barn, of Orange, Mass., for your generous donation of soccer balls to the impoverished children of Iraq. My team and I are U.S. Army Soldiers stationed in Mosul, Iraq. We are a 25-person combat advisor, military transition team. I have included a picture of us. Our role is to live and work with Iraqi Soldiers in an effort to strengthen their capability to provide security for the city of Mosul, which is the third largest city in Iraq.

“In doing our mission, we leave the compound daily with the Iraqi Army and visit various neighborhoods throughout the city. Very often, we encounter hundreds of children across the city who live in poverty and have very little money, resources, shelter or equipment to organize any form of sporting event. One sport that is extremely popular is soccer. As we drive by, we see kids holding up both of their hands signaling a request for us to throw them a soccer ball. We have hundreds of Beanie Babies and other toys that we do provide to them, but many would prefer a soccer ball so they could play with each other in a team sport.

“Just after we arrived in October 2008, I was lucky to have had donated 10 soccer balls which we gave out along our routes. We were amazed at the enthusiasm and raised spirits of the kids when we threw out a soccer ball. In every case, the kids immediately started up a scratch soccer game. It was wonderful to see. I can absolutely assure you that we will distribute your donated soccer balls every day we go out. This will bring many smiles to many Iraqi kids.

“Additionally, it helps to show a good American image of giving and, I truly believe, it helps keep the Soldiers in perspective about people who have very little and keeps in check what we are here trying to do. In other words, this helps keep our Soldiers motivated in doing the right thing and working hard despite the separation from friends and family and the danger they endure every day.

“Our Soldiers are proud to help the Iraqi Soldiers learn their craft so eventually, one day, our U.S. Soldiers and civilians may return to the United States, having made a difference in bringing safety and security to the people of Iraq, so that they may live in peace and enjoy the freedoms we enjoy in the United States.

“Again, thank you very much for your generous support.

“LTC Bob Brown, Executive Officer, U.S. Army Military Transition Team 2nd Division, Iraqi Army, Mosul, Iraq.”