SEGEMA GROUP. A VIEW OVER TWO WORLDS
The Segema group represents a special vantage point over the Italian tire market, striving for greater efficiency through its training programs and internal logistics
It's a kind of middle ground between two worlds, where entrepreneurial and managerial cultures meet, seemingly similar, but in reality very distant from each other in terms of business approach. Perhaps one closer to manufacturers and the other to retailers and dealers. This is Segema, a holding company part of the Yokohama-Magri Group, created in 2010 by the Magri family with the aim of managing the ownership of the buildings as well as providing assistance and tire management services.
"Providing quality service to customers through a professional dealer is the goal of any distributor, and we are no exception" says the general manager of Yokohama Italia Roberto Tebaldini "but sometimes we are lacking when it comes to communicating effectively with our direct partners and we find ourselves in difficult situations. We should really learn to be more humble and learn how to listen to our partners and customers. Only then will the value of our product and our service be truly appreciated. Not surprisingly, then, our group has followed a different path in recent years, not only by offering good products in a difficult Italian market, but also by trying to help retailers grow improving the quality of their work”. In other words, learn to better cope with the economic recession.
"Not only. Strange as it may seem, our sector reached its peak in 2011, three full years after the beginning of the economic crisis. And that meant that we all lost our heads a little thinking that we were infallible. Rather than getting their act together, some even decided to stop making investments and started slimming down the list of their retailers. It goes without saying that from 2012 the entire sector started paying the consequences of such arrogance as well as not investing in the sector when all the circumstantial evidence showed that it was the right time to do so. The result was a stagnant market and we all paid a heavy price. Now though, the recession seems to be behind us, but there are new issues that need to be dealt with promptly”.
Small guys must try harder
How did your group deal with this situation? "As you know, us small guys have to try harder" says Tebaldini. "To begin with, we introduced the TyrePick system to speed things up in our National warehouse and then, in 2012, we created a new company, MG Service, which performs ongoing audits and training programs to detect and prevent or solve any issues that might cause inefficiencies.
And since, as I always say, you must first help yourself if you want to be able to help others, we have worked very hard in recent years to upgrade our training program and now we would like to transfer all this know-how to our dealers and help them grow from a business point of view, for example, making sure that all red tape procedures are properly complied with. Furthermore, we also deal with safety in the workplace – for many, Law Decree n° 81 is indeed a difficult mystery to unravel! – not to mention the steps needed to be able to bring home state contributions provided for such training programs!
And that is not all. In our National warehouse, in Carpenedolo, we have created a virtual store with all the latest machinery, perhaps the most visible of all the working tools that MG Service uses in its training programs, what we like to call “real” training. We also created a new business training figure, we call it a “Super-trainer”, one who combines the skills of a technical manager with those of a safety officer. Furthermore, we worked on cost containment and contrary to what our competitors have been doing, we have continued to invest in our logistics operating, at times, as contractors so that our vehicles do not come back completely empty from outlying warehouses".
Cautious optimism for the years ahead
In short, a lot of work, which is apparently bearing the desired fruit thanks to that healthy enthusiasm that should be the driving force behind any entrepreneur. While the aging of the current circulating fleet has inevitably led to a higher demand for replacements, "the up-surge of new cars sales in 2015 produced a higher demand for OE as well and," points out Roberto Pizzamiglio, Cars and 4x4 tires Sales & Marketing director at Yokohama Italia, "at the end of 2015 a significant increase in UHP winter tires took place, which allows us to look to the current year with cautious optimism, forecasting a 3-5% sales increase".
On the same wavelengths we find Marco Princigalli, Director of Truck & OTR tires Sales at Yokohama Italia, according to whom the truck is a real thermometer of the economy. "A greater number of lorries are the tangible sign of an economy that is growing," he says. "And for me, since I sell capital goods, the news is very good indeed. For at least a couple of years, the sector has been growing and we aim to close the current year with a result that is even higher than the market’s average".
The key to everything is rather simple, according to Tebaldini. "We need to increase the number of customers in and out of our stores if we want to grow together, creating a virtuous circle between our company, our retailers and end customers, one that leads to a positive word of mouth". Sounds simple! In Carpenedolo, however, they seem to have what it takes.
More than just Yokohama
It would be rather restrictive to identify the Segema group with the sole management of a premium brand like Yokohama. In addition to Yokohama Italia, the Brescia based holding controls Magri Gomme, which sells GT Radial tires from Indonesia; CDG ONE, which manages partnership activities with rental companies and fleets; MG Italteam, which looks after the logistics of the group and MG Service that deals with training and safety.
Next year, the Yokohama Rubber Company Limited will celebrate one hundred years of activity. The company, founded in Tokyo in 1917, is now the second largest Japanese tire manufacturer and unquestionably a reference brand in the world, especially in segments such as high and ultra high performance tires not to mention specific products for SUVs and 4x4s. It is no coincidence, therefore, that luxury brands such as Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, Lotus, Mazda and Porsche have chosen Yokohama tires as OE.
Yokohama Italia, which has been marketing its products exclusively for the Italian market since 1987, stems from a joint venture between Yokohama, the Marubeni Corporation and Magri Gomme, and operates exclusively through a professional channel of specialist tire dealers, marketing tires for passenger cars, SUVs, 4x4s, light and heavy transport vehicles.
GT Radial is a second brand also present in the passenger cars segment as well as 4x4s and commercial vehicles. The Indonesian company, which boasts five production facilities in China, is known for the constant technological development of its products, for the large number of patents registered and recent hefty investments in the European market. The new Sport Active is a clear indication of the company’s commitment, earning a B rating for wet braking and a B-C for rolling resistance in recent tests carried out by an external body.
CDGs (Consulenti Di Guida) are Driving Advisors, or specialist retailers, who receive a range of services caring for a retail store layout and image as well as business initiatives through personalized advice, a range of high-tech accessories, besides technical training and marketing. The CDG can then participate in a series of initiatives such as safe driving courses and direct driving experiences called TPE (Technical Performance Experience). Moreover, starting in 2011, all this was joined by the CDG-One project, a dual brand network (Yokohama and GT Radial) which provides support services and tire management to rental companies and corporate fleets through a network that now has more than 800 affiliates.
MG Italteam, created in 2004 following the need to have an integrated logistics hub for the movement of goods, has since become first a sales lever and then a strategic weapon in the group’s relationship with its customers. If in the seventies and eighties deliveries could be independently coordinated by Magri Gomme, in the following decade, with the arrival of Yokohama, the need for a greater amount of deliveries became necessary. From an internal logistics system, therefore, the decision was to create a third party that would deal with the group’s logistics at 360°, complying at the same time with recent legislations that make the creation of “ad hoc” logistics companies a must.
MG Service came into being in 2014 to promote the professional growth of its employees and dealers. This training activity, strongly supported by the management, was approved by Joint Local Authorities and is based on a program of courses organized after a prearranged meeting with the workers' representatives. The whole package is funded through the recovery of compulsory taxes paid by the company to Fondimpresa and destined to personnel training.
Over 200 Kwit-Fit centres within 2026
At the end of March, CDG-One signed an agreement with Kwik-Fit, the largest automotive maintenance and repair company in Britain, to open more than 200 Kwik-Fit centres in Italy by 2026. This means creating on average 20 centres each year through the affiliation of existing stores and the opening of new ones in franchising under the supervision of CDG-One. The latter, as Kwik-Fit’s Master Franchisee, will oversee the management and activities of affiliated stores, while Kwik-Fit will provide training and support in terms of marketing and technology. These centres, customized according to Kwik-Fit’s well-known standards, can operate at multiple levels, from mere tire replacements to more extensive operations such as auto repairs and MOT preparations. Customers will further benefit from Kwik-Fit’s European warranty.