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Goodyear Interview: Helping Truckers During COVID-19

Carriers, Freight Research, ShippersPublished on April 29, 2020

As truckers transport essential supplies across our nation, Goodyear is providing roadside services and access to equipment to support America’s truckers. 

Blake Winterton, Senior Manager of Commercial Services at Goodyear, joins Convoy for our latest video covering how COVID-19 is impacting the freight industry. Winterton is responsible for Goodyear’s FleetHQ Service Center, a program that helps minimize downtime for truckers when unexpected roadside issues arise. Convoy teamed up with Goodyear to provide FleetHQ roadside assistance in addition to online tire discounts for carriers in our nationwide network.

In our interview with Blake Winterton, we cover:

  • How demand for commercial truck tires remains high, in spite of shocks caused by COVID-19
  • Goodyear’s implementation of zero-contact service to ensure the safety of truck drivers and its own employees
  • Convoy’s partnership with Goodyear to to provide tire discounts and roadside assistance to carriers

Learn more about Goodyear’s benefits for carriers who haul with Convoy. 

Convoy Weekly COVID-19 Updates

You can read the a transcript of the our interview with Goodyear below: 

Ari Bixhorn:

So Blake, we’ve seen supply undergo a lot of change in a very short period of time due to the COVID-19 crisis. Given that Goodyear is central to the freight industry I’m curious to hear what you’ve been seeing and what sort of impact you’ve seen.

Blake Winterton (Goodyear):

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the commercial tire industry. But despite that kind of demand shock in the commercial tire business and the trucking industry, we’re seeing still a lot of demand for the commercial tires. And a lot of that demand is being driven by those essential services. When you think of grocery haulers, medical supplies, transporting emergency crews, those types of business are continuing to thrive. We were also seeing the downside of that in other businesses, like those tied to automotive.

So the demand has shifted and we’ll continue to monitor it but with the added demand on these services that are needed, these goods and services and trying to get freight to the grocery stores, to those first responders, to the medical supplies to the hospitals. It’s putting a lot of demand on the fleets to keep their vehicles up and running and the drivers to keep their vehicles up and running. So we are seeing an increased attention to tire health and air pressure which is a good thing because that keeps tires running down the road.

Ari Bixhorn:

Blake I know one of the things that you’ve been having to deal with is the idea of a zero contact as you’re working with carriers. Tell us a little bit more about that.

Blake Winterton:

Yeah as you think about seven weeks ago when this all started at least from Goodyear’s perspective since I’ve been working from home we weren’t even thinking about zero contact. And quickly we as a team and the team of our Goodyear commercial tire and service center has done a great job of servicing the fleets out there in the marketplace. They got around the horn, quickly implemented this zero contact service. And what that means is how do we keep our employees safe and how do we keep the truck drivers safe? We need them to stay safe and healthy and keep the freight moving that’s keeping our country moving.

So that zero contact service involves little things like making sure the drivers stays in the vehicle when that service is being performed. Taking payment by phone, making sure everything that we touch on a daily basis is sanitized and cleaned following all those guidelines from the center of disease control and prevention and really that social distance protocol that’s out there, maintaining that. So we’ve implemented that across all of our stores. Many of our independent dealers are implementing those processes as well and the team really did a great job of reacting quickly to something that wasn’t even on the radar a few weeks ago.

Ari Bixhorn:

In early April your team at Goodyear started working with Convoy to launch the nationwide roadside assistance program and this is for carriers who will haul on our digital freight network. Can you tell the viewers a little bit more about the program?

Blake Winterton:

Yeah this one’s close to my heart. I have responsibility for our Fleet HQ service center. So we’re excited to partner with Convoy and provide a service, not just through this COVID pandemic but as things get back to normal. To continue to provide service to all the hardworking truckers around the country. So partnering with Convoy we were able to come up with a 24/7 365 roadside service breakdown program. Goodyear has been operating this for years as Fleet HQ. So partnered up with Convoy we’ve created a dedicated phone line for drivers to call if you have a tire issue on the side of the road.

So you have a tire issue you call that dedicated line, it brings in our Fleet HQ, we have Convoy’s program loaded and ready to go. We take your information, find where you’re at on the side of the road, find the closest dealer that servicing point that can get out to you in a short period of time. And keep you updated through that process from when we dispatch them. We can send you text messages along the way so you know when that dealer is on their way to you. And really that whole process is streamlined and at no cost to the convoy carriers.

Ari Bixhorn:

Tell me a little bit more about the tire pricing. I know there’s this concept of controlled pricing.

Blake Winterton:

Yeah. So we have a pricing program that we publish to the Convoy carriers, also it’s published to our dealers. So that driver, if he’s on the side of the road he can get that pricing and know exactly what he’s going to pay for a tire. There’s no negotiating back and forth on the phone. You think about the old method without a fleet HQ in play that driver if he’s broken down, have to go on his phone. Google nearest service provider, call that service provider say, “Hey, here’s where I’m at. How much are you charging for service? What tires do you have in stock? How much are those tires?”

And it’s an ongoing negotiation. So now with all these pricing and program in place the driver knows what he’s going to pay, he knows how much that. He’s going to get national account service rates, so the same benefits that the large trucking companies receive from Goodyear. He will get those service rates and a locked in tire price. So he’ll have a great idea and know exactly what he’s going to spend. And all is communicated between the driver fleet HQ and the servicing dealer that we get and dispatch to try to get you up and running in two hours or less.

Ari Bixhorn:

Blake, I know that our carriers don’t always want to buy tires when they’re out on the road and Goodyear is offering a program that makes things easier when they’re at home as well. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Blake Winterton:

Yeah. It’s a bad day when they have to buy tires over the road for the carrier and the bulk of their purchases happen on a daily basis, right? When they see they’re in need of tires they can schedule that service and buy those tires as needed instead of a emergency situation. So Goodyear is happy to partner with Convoy in one of our newest launches really in an e-commerce type platform. So we’ve partnered with Convoy to publish this for their carriers and it’s the same way you would buy something online at home when you’re ordering whatever it is, from whatever e-commerce retailer you would order something from.

So we have website on one end, but actually through Convoy you can go to Convoy’s carrier benefits website and there’s a link right there that says purchase tires. Easily click on that link, it takes you to an external platform where a driver can follow those steps of how they would buy anything online and buy tires for their vehicle. There’s a simple tire selector, so whether it’s they are looking for by size or vocation, easily finding the product that fits their vehicle. It takes them to find their location, they can find the closest dealer that can install those tires for them.

Set up that service time and they know exactly what they’re going to pay and what that service is going to cost and pay before they get the service done. Show up that day, all they got to do is bring in the receipt and say, “Hey, I have this service and I’m ready to get my tires installed.” And our dealer will take care of that for them easily. So they know what they’re paying, it gives them access to premium Goodyear brand, mid tier Goodyear brand and even our Kelly truck tires line of tires for them. So it’s a great new program that we’re excited to have in place. So you’re not always buying tires in an emergency situation.

Ari Bixhorn:

So we just recently launched the program. How has it been going so far?

Blake Winterton:

Yeah. So it is a fairly new program like you said, we just launched it. We’ve had a couple of success stories where drivers had an issue and we were able to pair them with a dealer and get them back up and running. I’m really excited to see it grow and those success stories that we’ve seen already. A couple of drivers to take advantage of it and get the tires and get off the side of the road, that’s the name of the game is to keep the freight moving. So I’m excited for it to grow and for drivers to continue to participate and use the service that we partnered with Convoy to deliver.

Ari Bixhorn:

I know we had one carrier that left us direct feedback on the program. He said and I quote, “The representative was extremely helpful and directed me to the closest Goodyear supplier so that I could get back on the road at ASAP. Thank you Convoy.” So it is great to hear that kind of feedback.

Blake Winterton:

Yeah, we love to hear that.

Ari Bixhorn:

Awesome. Well Blake, I want to thank you for joining us today and I want to thank all of your colleagues at Goodyear for supporting our nation’s drivers. I really enjoyed our chat today.

Blake Winterton:

Yeah I appreciate it Ari. Thanks for having me.


Ari Bixhorn

Ari Bixhorn heads marketing and sales development at Convoy. In this role, Ari is responsible for driving awareness and adoption of Convoy's Digital Freight Network. Prior to Convoy, Ari was VP of Marketing at Panopto for 8 years and worked at Microsoft Corporation for 12 years, writing speeches for CEO Steve Ballmer, leading business development efforts in the Windows division, and driving developer tools product management. Ari studied Computer Science at Virginia Tech. He enjoys hiking, photography, and boxing.
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