From coast-to-coast, company focuses on meeting the needs of its strong dealer network
If you took a look at MTA Distributing today, you’d probably never guess the company started out as a Goodyear motorcycle tire distributor and is one of the oldest Bridgestone powersports distributors in America, but that’s where it all began. The company started in 1972 and originated out of Dearborn, Michigan. As the demands of its customers grew, so did the product lines, the staff and the locations of the company.
Just six years after it was founded, MTA expanded to California in 1978 and today is located in Corona, Calif. The company expanded several more times since then, to Choudrant, La. in 1995 to South Carolina in 2004, and to Perrysburg, Ohio in 2010.
“The expansions came because we needed to service our dealers in a better time period,” says Jeff Laird, marketing manager for MTA. “We opened all these warehouses to better serve our customers and ensure more prompt shipping time lines. Shipping something from Dearborn, Mich. to California took about five days. We wanted to make sure we could service everybody in a shorter time period.”
In addition, as the products that MTA picked up and expanded, the company outgrew the facilities that it had. MTA could also stock more if its facilities were divided in four locations rather than one.
“After Goodyear tire is when we started to get into more diverse products such as ATVs, Side-by-Sides and motorcycles, and that’s when we expanded our locations,” Laird says. “Bridgestone products were some of the first lines we expanded into after Goodyear.”
Above all else, MTA is focused on serving its dealer network and making sure that it provides a knowledgeable, courteous staff to support the dealer network, meet the dealer’s needs, steer them in the right direction and educate them. MTA also offers extensive catalogs. The company has an ATV/UTV catalog, and a motorcycle catalog that handles street and off-road.
Aside from the more than 150 brands MTA distributes, the 150-employee company is also the exclusive distributor for 16 brands. Slasher Products is MTA’s house brand and the company has a bunch of items it continually tries to grow and develop.
“Right now MTA’s Slasher brand has race harnesses for Side-by-Sides, a battery line, axles, motorcycle stands and other hard parts,” Laird says. “We’re focused on growing that brand and developing products that are of quality and sold at a good price.”
MTA is also the exclusive distributor for Interco Tires, Zox Helmets, EVS Helmets, Full-Bore Tires, TORC 1 Products, STI Tires and Wheels, and just recently picked up Five Gloves.
“MTA’s first house brand was created in 2003, which was a helmet line,” he says. “We found we were fairly successful in that, and it allowed us to think outside the box, and not reinvent the wheel but come up with things we had access to. That first helmet line really started it.”
As the company has grown its own brands, it has also paid a great deal of attention to how it can help grow the other brands it distributes and where it has further opportunity to expand. One such example was at MTA’s annual national sales meeting this past January. At the meeting MTA picked up Five Gloves as its exclusive distributor.
“Five Gloves are a French, high-end glove manufacturer,” Laird says. “The company’s top road racing glove has 162 pieces all sewn together. Your hand has a natural curve to it when you hold onto a handlebar, and Five Gloves are manufactured like that so it feels like its molded to the handlebar. Five is dedicated to producing top quality gloves and only gloves. This philosophy allows them to focus on hand protection and not lose focus on the products.”
“We have our sales people going around and the meeting allows them the time to sit down with vendors and ask any questions or fine tune features they weren’t aware of,” he says. “We are trying to keep up with dealer’s needs. Our main thing is trying to stay on top of customer service. We spend a lot of time and money on educating our sales people and educating our dealers as well.”
To help its proprietary brands grow, MTA helps with advertising, events, ride days at local tracks, and will do the Industry Cup each year.
“At MTA, we’re all enthusiasts,” he says. “Most of the people here either ride or participate in industry events, which really sets us apart. At all the racing events and shows across the country, you’re sure to find someone who works at MTA.”
That passion for the product and the industry is a big part of what has led to MTA’s success over the years and why its own brands have performed well.
“MTA’s Slasher line has done very well over its five-year lifespan,” Laird explains. “The brand started with axles, which carry a one-year warranty, and has grown into batteries, restraint harnesses, tires, motorcycle stands and ramps, goggles, and Slasher has a new heavy-duty axle called the El Gordo.”
In addition to the company’s passion for what it does, MTA has also reached out to Motovan, a Canadian distributor, to bounce ideas off of them.
“MTA and Motovan have been working together to share industry knowledge and combine our experience to help facilitate the needs of our dealers,” he says. “It’s good to get another point of view on things, and it’s been good for us.”
Down the road, MTA plans to keep developing the Slasher line, and will continue to keep pushing the lines that it has and service its dealers as best the company can.
“We don’t have a retail outlet so we are really loyal to the dealers,” Laird says. “A lot of distributors have online retailers, and we don’t have that, so the dealers have to understand that they’re the only thing we focus on.”