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Tires, wheels continue to drive MTA sales

Distributor adds brands; new warehouse coming soon

Tires and wheels have always been the backbone of MTA Distributing. In fact, the “T” in MTA stands for tires — Motorcycle Tires and Accessories. In the 1970s, MTA became one of the first distributors of Bridgestone’s powersports tires; now it carries tires and wheels from 16 different brands.

“Tires and wheels is really what we started out with. It’s one of our strongest performing avenues here,” Jeff Laird, national marketing manager for MTA, told Powersports Business.

MTA distributes tires from Maxxis, Kenda, CST, GBC, Continental, Vee Rubber, Bridgestone, Full Bore, Essex Surefoot, Carlisle, Gorilla and Slasher; wheels from Remington, and tires and wheels from Interco, ITP and STI. Of those brands, it’s the exclusive distributor for Remington, STI, Slasher, Full Bore and Interco.

MTA Distributing is the exclusive U.S. distributor of STI tires and wheels.
MTA Distributing is the exclusive U.S. distributor of STI tires and wheels.

MTA works with so many tire and wheel brands because it wants to serve dealers throughout the U.S.

“All across the nation, the terrains vary, the conditions change and the vehicles change, so I think being that coast-to-coast full distributor, we have to have that full line to meet the needs of the dealers that are in different regions, or who have different lifestyles,” Laird said.

He added, “I think it really boils down to meeting the dealers’ needs, so they can go to one place and get everything they need and not have to buy something from us and go somewhere else to buy something else. That’s why we go full circle.”

MTA has also had to accommodate a changing landscape, as OEMs are constantly adjusting their stock tire and wheel offerings.

“There’s been a lot of changes I would say in the past five to six years, with [side-by-side] tire sizes growing from OEMs, where 25-inch used to be the standard, and now, 28s, 30s and sometimes 32s are coming stock on a lot of these vehicles,” Laird explained.

One brand that has been a particular highlight for MTA has been STI, which Laird said tests all of its products under a variety of conditions for a year or two before releasing them.

“We’re lucky to have STI as one of our house brands. They go out and do a lot of testing,” he said.

Other than the wide brand selection, one offering that keeps dealers ordering their tires and wheels from MTA is the distributor’s mounting service. Any tire and wheel combination that’s ordered by 3 p.m. will be mounted by MTA and shipped out the same day.


“Any tire, any wheel combo, we mount it, ship it and take care of them. We even do beadlocks. We have a full mounting department. That’s all they do all day is mount,” Laird reported.

Offering the mounting service allows MTA’s dealer partners to get units with new tires and wheels back in customers’ hands more quickly.

Beyond tires

Though tires were the beginning for MTA, the company has expanded far beyond that in its 37 years in the industry. MTA distributes a wide variety of parts, accessories and gear in the motorcycle, ATV and side-by-side segments.

MTA is the exclusive U.S distributor of 15 brands, including Zox helmets, EVS helmets, Olympia adventure gear, Remington wheels, Five gloves, Drift action cameras, Kite complete wheels, STI tires and wheels, Interco ATV tires and wheels, Full Bore tires, Rockwell watches, Hitcase camera phone cases and Quadrax UTV components, as well as Torc 1 brake pedals, shifters and grips, and Slasher ATV tires, UTV restraints, bumpers and ATV/UTV axles.

Drawing those brands to sign exclusively with MTA are the distributor’s solid regional managers and its sales force of 40 reps.

Recently released, MTA Distributing’s motorcycle catalog totals 1,282 pages.
Recently released, MTA Distributing’s motorcycle catalog totals 1,282 pages.

“One of the things that we look at when we’re looking at an exclusive is trying to make sure that we meet the vendor’s needs. We want to make sure it’s one of the items we’re going to be successful with,” Laird said. “We want to make sure whatever we have fits here, and we’re not just selling a product space. Most of the things that we seek out tend to
complement other brands.”

MTA has grown in strength recently, as the company was acquired by Quebec-based Motovan, a Canadian powersports PG&A distributor.

“We can share product knowledge, historical data, things that they’ve been successful with on lines that we’re picking up, and we can combine our buying power to make sure that we’re buying a little bit deeper, stocking a little bit more, and we can share our inventory between the locations,” Laird pointed out.

The cooperation, which has budded during the three-year acquisition period, also allows the two distributors to share sales meetings, so all reps and staff can be educated at the same time.

“That’s one of the things that we’re really big on, making sure our staff is really educated, so we spend a lot of time and money on making sure that we’re educating our staff, bringing vendors in to do training with them,” Laird said.

MTA and Motovan want to make sure their staffs can easily answer questions, guide dealers in the right direction as far as product selection and keep on-hold times to a minimum.

Growth plans

MTA has been operating for more than 30 years, but the company isn’t slowing down any time soon.

In August, MTA acquired adventure gear brand Olympia Moto Sports out of North Carolina. Olympia now has a dedicated brand manager, and MTA and Motovan’s in-house designers and marketing teams are working to build on what Laird calls a “high-quality brand” and improving its distribution.

“You look at that brand, and everything has been thought of. There’s nothing you can actually look at with that brand and say, ‘Man, why didn’t they do this?’” Larid said, acknowledging the brand’s history under founders Kevin and Karilea Rhea.

“From the outside looking in, it’s a great opportunity for a great market. The adventure gear market is something we haven’t had. It was a great opportunity to take Olympia and add distribution to it and not have to compete with anybody else on that brand,” he added.

Olympia also gives MTA a chance to serve BMW dealers, as it now has a solid adventure gear brand to offer, along with Five gloves and a variety of helmets and hard parts that complement Olympia and the BMW rider’s lifestyle.

In the first few months of 2016, MTA has also signed distributor agreements with more than a dozen brands, including TOM TOM GPS, UFO plastics, ACF-50 anti-corrosion compound, Pivot Works bearings and seals, Pro Sport waterproof bags, Hot Cams, Cylinder Works, Vertex Pistons, TM Designworks, Metric Concepts, Stadium suspension, K&L and Winderosa gaskets.

“The company is going good. We’ve had steady growth,” Laird said.

To accommodate its recent growth, MTA is hiring additional staff, investing in technology and increasing efficiency at its warehouses in Choudrant, La.; Greenville, S.C.; Perrysburg, Ohio, and at its headquarters in Corona, Calif. MTA is also going to add a fifth warehouse location this year.

“We’re definitely going to be expanding this year,” Laird said. “We’re looking at transit times, and we want to make sure that we can get all the dealers handled in a day or two, so we’ll be looking at areas where transit times may be three days and see if we can shorten that up.”

With all of this improvement and the upcoming changes, those at MTA are happy with the position they’re in and where they’re heading in the future.

“As a company, we’re really excited to see what the future brings because with the growth and the reputation that we’re getting, we’re having a lot of companies come to us and contact us and want us to pick up their lines. That’s kind of flattering to know that everybody’s coming and looking at you and seeing what you’re doing, and they want to be a part of it.”


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