While many other tire dealers have been scrambling to protect their market share in a troubled economy, Evansville, Ind.-based Raben Tire Company has been enjoying steady growth.
Earlier this year the company opened its 34th location, a new 45,000 square-foot commercial tire dealership in St. Louis, Mo. It's one of a handful of new facilities that the company has opened or acquired in the last few years.
"We've been able to grow our business because of the excellent, technically astute people we have working for us," said Tom Raben, one of the company's owners who supervises the company's commercial tire division. Tom and his brothers share responsibility for managing Raben Tire Company, one of the largest tire dealers in the Midwest.
"By taking full advantage of the training opportunities and materials from Goodyear, we've been able to provide our employees the knowledge they need to offer our customers quality service and quality products," added Larry. "That's helped us be able to grow even in this economy."
Raben Tire's reputation for quality is also why Raben Tire has earned designation as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company's Commercial Tire Dealer of the Month for January 2011.
Each month, Goodyear honors its top dealers that provide customers outstanding service, while helping them choose from among the Goodyear, Dunlop and Kelly tire brands. The Dealer of the Month honor recognizes Raben Tire for helping customers make full use of Goodyear services, such as fleetHQ, TVTRACK and GTRACS automated retread tracking system.
"It's great to know that Goodyear recognizes the hard work of our dedicated employees in helping our customers choose the right tire solutions for their operations," Tom said. "We're proud of this recognition."
Larry and Tom's father, Henry "Butch" Raben, started Raben Tire in 1952 when he bought a single-location service station in downtown Evansville, Ind., from his brother-in-law, Bernie Flittner. In 1972, Butch died unexpectedly from a heart attack, leaving his sons to assume responsibility for the company.
Over the years, Tom and Larry and their brothers grew the business from a few locations to 34 in six states, including two retreading facilities in Clarksville, Ind., and Scott City, Mo. Raben Tire Co. also operates a wholesale tire division and specialty tire supplier, Modern Tire Co.
Raben Tire has enjoyed high recognition in Evansville and throughout its market areas through a pair of zany mustachioed cartoon characters named Ra and Ben. The pair regularly appears in the company's television commercials and newspaper ads for commercial and retail tires dressed in bib overalls, plaid shirts, motorcycle caps and goggles.
"We've had a lot of fun using Ra and Ben to help us in our marketing," Tom said. "But while the two cartoon characters help get customers in the door, the service and products we offer are what keep customers coming back."
"We always look for ways to help our customers get the most out of their tires," Larry added. "Quality retreading is one of the major ways we're able to accomplish that."
Raben Tire's retread plants in Clarksville and Scott City produce tires using the Goodyear UniCircle method and precure retreading method. Each of the two retreading facilities has two curing chambers and operates a single shift, producing about 200 tires per day.
Brad Raben said Goodyear's GTRACS automated retread tracking system is an efficient tool that helps customers keep track of the retreads produced at Raben's retreading plants. "By using GTRACS, customers know how long their tires are in our retreading facilities, when they've been retreaded or rejected and they know how much more tread wear they get out of their retreads," Brad said.
Innovations in tire technology, such as Goodyear's DuraSeal Technology, are value-added products that Raben offers its customers, Larry added. DuraSeal is a built-in sealant that can instantly and consistently seal punctures up to ¼-inch in the tread area, without the need to repair the tire until it is retreaded. This allows truck drivers to continue operating after a tire is punctured.
Tom said while Goodyear's longtime commitment to innovation has helped Raben Tire maintain its reputation over the years, the business has succeeded due in large measure to his family's commitment "to be the very best tire, service and process provider to our customers."