Hankook Launches Truck Master Service Programme
Hankook’s truck tyre division is probably the fastest growing part of the UK truck tyre market. According to Tyres & Accessories’ research, in just a few years the UK truck wing of the South Korean manufacturer has grown to the point that it controls between 6 and 8 per cent of the UK truck tyre replacement market. Of course the exact figure depends on who you ask and which figure you put on the total market size, but either way it is obviously an achievement. Now the company hopes to build on its recent successes by launching a new national breakdown network called Truck Masters.
According to Hankook Tyre UK’s commercial vehicle sales manager Barrie Horrocks, Truck Masters will be a 24-hour, 365 days a year breakdown service. Hankook reports that 200 service points have signed up to the programme and that he is currently aiming for 250, with the next landmark goal being 300. The new programme will be headed up by David Thorp who joined Hankook at the beginning of 2006 specifically to take on this role. He had previously worked in Pirelli’s truck department.
Initial planning for the project began back in July when the Truck Masters steering committee (12 key dealers) first met. Company executives say they were keen to consult with the appropriate partners before going ahead with its plans to offer the full service package to customers. Barrie Horrocks reports that working together like this to form a large-scale breakdown service has one particular benefit – it helps ensure that non-policy tyres are not fitted and that the correct tyres are fitted at a reasonable price. After the Truck Masters programme is better established, Hankook executives told T&A that an online ordering system is the next port of call.
According to Barrie Horrocks, Hankook has between 8 and 10 per cent of a total UK truck replacement market that could be as much as 1.4 million. The company’s clear goal is to increase sales, while developing the quality of the brand’s identity. And the obvious next step of this is the development of the breakdown service. Up till now Hankook’s growth has been down to good sales performance including gaining a number of key fleet deals.
Following the successful beginning to company’s growth strategy, Hankook representatives say the company is now targeting fleets using premium brand products hoping to build long-term business relationships on trust and mutual respect. This has already paid with the transfer of a number of “blue chip” fleets to Hankook tyres. The company will continue to focus on regional fleets that travel nationally.
In addition to the marketing developments in the UK, Hankook research and development department are reportedly developing new products all the time. Currently the product life cycle is said to be five years. One of the latest additions to the company’s range was Hankook’s 445/45 19.5 wide-single trailer tyre. “Trucks have to use modern technology to make the most of the modern tractor units that haulage companies are increasingly using,” Barrie Horrocks said, commenting on Hankook’s product portfolio. According to the South Korean manufacturer, 5 per cent of global profits are ploughed back into research and development.
Company representatives told T&A Hankook products are increasingly green, because of their “low rolling resistance” properties. And if you want Hankook to put its money where its corporate mouth is, Horrocks suggests parties interested in the performance of Hankook’s truck tyre products take part in a fleet trial and see the results for themselves.
Hankook executives don’t align their products’ identity with other far-eastern. While the producers of low cost, budget truck tyres may be operating out of factories that are geographically close to Hankook’s native South Korea, that is where the similarities end, says Horrocks. “Other companies import tyres and don’t want anything else to do with it.” In this sector, wholesalers are not interested in tyre and price alone, he explained, adding: “If a company doesn’t take profile rising steps, it makes life difficult for them.”
Hankook’s approach couldn’t be more different. Think about how Bridgestone have progressed in the last 15 years and you have a better picture of what the Hankook Tyre UK is aiming for. They are clearly set on attaining a similar level of success and even have a 15 year plan of their own. “You’ve got to keep on moving, otherwise you are a dead duck,” comments Barrie Horrocks.