LAS VEGAS — Hugh Pace´s goal as the new CEO of Pirelli Tire North America Inc. is clear-double the company´s sales in the next five years to $1 billion.
That´s the target established by management at parent company Pirelli Tyre S.p.A., according to Francesco Gori, who serves as CEO of the Italian firm. "(Pirelli Tire) North America is now a size (that´s) sufficient for ´regional independence,´ " he said. "We´re looking for a ´qualitative presence´ in North America."
The target may be simple, but how does Pace get the company there?
"We have a simple vision for Pirelli North America. Leadership in the high-performance consumer business," Pace said. "Our overall market share is small, but we have double-digit share presence in selected performance segments. There are niche opportunities for growth."
Pace and Gori, discussing Pirelli´s strategy while attending the Specialty Equipment Market Association trade show last year in Las Vegas, were emphatic about two goals for the North American business: Focus solely on the Pirelli brand and sell only through independent dealers.
"We want to be the brand of choice for consumers, the supplier of choice for dealers and the employer of choice for our associates," Pace said.
Pirelli hopes to tap into several promotional opportunities in the coming years-motorsports, original equipment, urban culture, etc.-to drive awareness of the brand, Pace said. After a one-year motorsports hiatus in 2007, Pirelli will be back in force in 2008 in racing, both in North America and internationally.
In North America, Pirelli will be the sole tire supplier to the Grand-American Rolex Series, the endurance racing challenge featuring prototype and production-based race cars competing at 15 events in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, including the 24 Hours of Daytona in late January.
Pirelli will use this venue to promote the brand both to consumers and dealers, Pace said.
Pirelli also hopes to leverage its status as an OE supplier to many of the world´s sports and luxury car makers. It recently picked up OE fitments on Mercedes-Benz´s 2008 ML350, R350/320CDI and ML 550 lines of sport-utility vehicles and will be an OE supplier to the revived Chevrolet Camaro when it debuts this fall, Pace said.
At about $500 million in sales, Pirelli Tire North America represents about 6 percent of Pirelli Tyre´s global revenues. Doubling that by 2012 will require 20-percent annual growth.
Pirelli picked Pace, a Goodyear executive for 30 years, in June to be the North American CEO. He assumed the presidency as well in September after 25-year Pirelli veteran Gaetano "Guy" Mannino left the company.
"We always said we wanted a U.S. native for the top spot," Gori said. "Hugh has good experience in Latin America, (which helps him) understand the Latin mentality."
Pace´s resume includes six years as head of Goodyear´s Asia Pacific business and executive positions at Goodyear operations in Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Argentina and Mexico. He retired from Goodyear in 2004 and spent a year with Smithers Rapra Technology in Shropshire, England, before joining Pirelli.