Belle Tire’s Distribution Center Uses The Latest Technology To Serve Customers Better.
After 85 years in business, Belle Tire is a Michigan institution and well known in the Toledo Area. With its animated 'Tireman' icon, longtime sponsorship of the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Pistons, Detroit Tigers and other community teams, and commitment to outstanding value and service, Belle Tire works hard to be an integral part of the communities it serves.
Family owned by the Barnes Family, Belle Tire has prided itself on innovation -- by introducing Nitro-Nize® nitrogen tire inflation to help extend the life of a tire -- and renovation, by completing work on its 306,000-square-foot Belle Tire Distribution Center in Allen Park to make product distribution to the over 80 locations more efficient to provide better service to customers.
"As far as tire warehousing and auto parts warehousing goes, it's as state-of-the-art as you can get," says Belle Tire Vice President Jeff Kruse. Renovation of the old Frito Lay factory in Allen Park started in February 2006 and was completed in early 2007. Kruse compliments contractor J.G. Morris Jr., who has built many of the Belle Tire Stores, for a job well done.
The aisles have a wire guidance system installed in the floor, which means that the hi-los and other equipment can move from place to place, "like big slot car racers," and can't deviate off track, according to Kruse. The location of everything stored on the shelves is managed by Radio Beacon warehouse management software. "The merchandise is all bar code-based," Kruse says. "The location of any single item in the warehouse is defined within the software, so you can find anything quickly."
The distribution center serves Belle Tire's over 80 retail stores in Michigan and Ohio daily with a fleet of 15 delivery trucks operating out of six shipping docks. Tires are received directly from tire factories worldwide at the distribution center through three receiving doors equipped with extendable conveyors that reach into truck trailers to facilitate the quickest possible unloading. The distribution center is a critical supply link to maintain the daily inventory of 250,000 tires chain-wide and the over 50,000 custom wheels at Belle Tire.
"We deliver six days a week to every one of our retail centers," Kruse says. "If you have a Lamborghini, we'll have the tires there tomorrow." The distribution center houses approximately 250,000 tires, over 50,000 custom wheels. That's vital, because the tire business has changed drastically over the years. The number of tire manufacturers, the variation in tire sizes, the special requirements of some vehicles and other factors make the business much more complicated today. "Thirty years ago, you could have 100 different types of tires in stock and cover 98% of all cars on the road," Kruse says. "Today, you need 3,000."
The distribution center also houses auto parts that are supplied to the Belle Tire stores to provide a full line of automotive services. Auto parts warehousing is accomplished with horizontal carousels. These units are completely computer-controlled and store more than 1,000 part numbers. They operate much like the units at your dry cleaners. Bringing the shelf to the operator.
Besides servicing countless motorists in Michigan -- commuters, soccer moms, NASCAR dads, Woodward Dream Cruisers -- Belle Tire operates a hefty commercial truck service. It is Michigan's largest truck tire provider and operates five truck tire re-treading plants: three in Michigan and two in Ohio. Belle Tire also runs commercial warehouses in Cleveland and Allen Park. "We serve a lot of truck fleets in Michigan," Kruse says. "Many of the trucks you see driving up and down the highway have tires we put on them."
Despite the changes over the years customers can still drive to a Belle Tire store and drive away having had their vehicle serviced with anything from Tires to Windshield Repair and Replacement and anything in between. And customers that come in always receive courteous service, and wait comfortably, knowing that their car is being serviced by experts.
Belle Tire is ISO registered, meaning it has met quality standards established by the International Organization for Standardization, to better serve each and every person that walks through the door.