Since it was established in 1956, Fountain Tire has grown into one of Canada’s leading tire and automotive service retail networks and wholesale tire distributors. The company currently has 155 locations that stretch from Ontario to British Columbia.
In addition, Fountain Tire is known as a leading provider of tires and tire-related services to commercial truck fleets and off-road vehicles used in the agriculture, oil and gas, mining, construction and aggregate industries. Of its 155 retail store locations, 105 are mixed service locations servicing commercial fleets.
The company’s infrastructure also includes a mining division, six retread plants, four distribution centers and 2,350 employees. Whether a retail or commercial customer, Fountain Tire strives to provide customers with service they can trust.
One of the keys to Fountain Tire’s success is the fact that most of its managers are owners, who own 50 percent of their store. It is through this partnership-based business model that the company is able to integrate an entrepreneurial culture with corporate intelligence. Fountain Tire’s shared ownership business model also helped the company earn a ranking among the 50 best-managed companies in Canada every year since 1994.
“The intent is to create a framework that cultivates a team with shared values, objectives and success,” says Anna Dechamplain, director of supply chain. “We believe that this invested interest creates value that other partnership models simply try to emulate.”
The partnership model also has an influence on supply chain because it allows Fountain Tire’s supply chain team the chance to view operations from the customers’ point of view. The partnership model helps Fountain Tire keep its focus on contributing to continuous improvement, cost effectiveness, operational efficiencies and reliability. This ensures a consistent customer experience that guides the company to strive to be Canada’s No. 1 tire distributor and service provider.
“I believe that strategic supply chain work begins from a customer back perspective,” Dechamplain says. “This approach helps us understand what is important and meaningful for our customers. From there we put together plans and processes that balance cost effectiveness and customer service reliability to deliver this value proposition.”
Over the last few years, Fountain Tire has come to recognize that supply chain must be linked to the operations of the organization as a whole so it can be part of its business strategy. The company believes that supply chain needs a seat at the executive table so it can have a voice in how operations proceed.
“This allows our department to mobilize and make strategic business decisions about how to align operations so we can find that balance between cost and service,” Dechamplain says. “We don’t want to trade consistency and reliability to drive cost savings in the supply chain. We understand that we need to service customers holistically.”
Advancing the Cause
When Dechamplain joined the company about 19 months ago, she began the process of reforming Fountain Tire’s supply chain. She says the biggest investment that has been made since she came on board has been in talent. “We defined the strategic capabilities our supply chain needs to be successful, identified the right people to do the work and now have the right team with the right skillsets in place to execute our plans,” she says.
One of the supply chain team’s first initiatives was to bring suppliers to the table to ensure each party’s goals were aligned. “They are an important part of our ability to deliver,” Dechamplain says. “Whether they are a transportation partner or a product supplier, they are key partners and are integral to help us execute our overall business strategy.”
Much of the focus on the inbound side for Fountain Tire has been on strengthening relationships with product suppliers. Alignment in these relationships is the key to success in their supply chain. Fountain Tire’s focus on the agreed goals and outcomes of key relationships allows the company to proactively manage its desired performance outcomes. Alignment with distribution center and store operations is deemed critical to company success.
On the outbound side, Fountain Tire has focused on best practice transportation management processes. The company works with a number of freight companies to help get products to its retail stores and wholesale partners. The company found that consolidation of the carrier network better supported the partnership model. Fountain Tire recently narrowed its carrier partnerships from 86 to 21 by focusing on core values during its tender process. The challenge of having a widespread network and remote locations required multiple partners to fulfill its transportation requirements.
The decision to reduce its carrier partnerships stems from the rapid growth Fountain Tire has seen in its retail and wholesale footprint over the last few years. As the company added new stores and locations, it needed to find and establish robust carrier relationships.
“This way, we can work to develop service level agreements and better defined quality delivery programs,” Dechamplain says.
At the store level, Fountain Tire has been working to optimize inventory by using data to determine the best product mix by region and store location. The company has an ERP system and category management process that helps with distribution center and store replenishment. Fountain Tire reviews the process quarterly to ensure each store is maximizing the potential of its market.
“We use data to understand market signals so we can better position ourselves upstream with suppliers and downstream with our customers,” Dechamplain says.
Fountain Tire focuses on alignment between operations across the whole organization. By understanding its own capabilities and what is required to be successful, the company builds strategic rolling three-year plans to plot its course across all functions and levels within the organization.
“We see ourselves as the leading provider of commercial and consumer tire products and solutions,” Dechamplain says.