Over the past year, Nexen Tire Americas has launched four tires in key segments with no plans to discontinue. It also moved its headquarters from Southern California to Richfield, Ohio, to be closer to its R&D center, and doubled its motorsport partnerships and original equipment. So how does the tire manufacturer fare with such a change? And what segments does it focus on?
We discovered in this episode of What’s up with the tire review, presented by AAPEX 2022. In this episode, we are joined by Jason Yard, Chief Marketing Officer of Nexen Tire USA. Jason has extensive experience in various automotive marketing positions, having previously worked at Malco Products before joining Nexen.
Jason describes the synergies Nexen has gained with the relocation of its headquarters, how each of Nexen’s new tire launches serves the market, and the goals for Nexen’s OE business and marketing that its dealers can leverage to grow brand awareness.
- Synergies Nexen Tire Americas Realized with Its R&D by Moving Its Headquarters from Southern California to Richfield, Ohio (0:29)
- How Nexen’s recently launched Roadian ATX fits into its light truck product line and improvements over its predecessor (3:11)
- The importance of adding the Roadian HTX2 and N’Fera Sport R to the Nexen product line (5:36)
- How Nexen’s average of four OEs per year helped the brand gain momentum (8:49)
- Nexen’s marketing focus, including its motorsports and landsports activations, and why they matter to the brand (10:28)
- How Dealers Can Use Nexen Garage (12:26)
Read the full interview below.
Maddie Winer, Tire Review Editor: Nexen Tire moved its headquarters from Southern California to Richfield, Ohio in the past year, just up the road from our home in Akron. Can you describe how this move was strategic for Nexen’s business?
Jason Yard, Marketing Director of Nexen Tire: The move was really strategic for a number of factors. First, we have this R&D center that we opened in 2019 here. It’s a brand new facility, and it’s beautiful. It has all the amenities you would want in a nice resort. We are therefore able to attract customers and have good intentions and a meaningful dialogue in a field close to the rubber industry. It also allows us to collaborate with our R&D team and with our OE team, so that we all speak the same language and know what others are doing.
I think another factor was just the cost and things associated with California. But it’s really about synergies and being able to use this facility for the whole company and show it off.
MW: Can you give an example of the synergies that have been achieved?
JY: You know, the OE team is still working on what the next fitment will be and a lot of that R&D collaboration translates into replacement tires. Not only do they make tires for original equipment, but they also take some of that same technology and put it into the replacement tire. So we kind of get informed about it and we even get guidelines on what our customers are looking for so that we put all our strengths together to bring good tires to market.
MW: I wanted to discuss one of Nexen’s newest tire launches: the Rodian ATX. Can you describe how this tire fits into Nexen’s light truck product line and what improvements have been made over its predecessor?
JY: We are very excited about the Roadian ATX. It’s a game changer. The biggest growing market is really the light truck and SUV market. It’s not a secret. The AT Pro, its predecessor, has actually won several design and functionality awards over the past few years. So we didn’t want to drastically change it, but obviously times change, compounds change, technology changes, so it was time to upgrade it. This [Roadian ATX] has a tri-ply sidewall on most sizes. This stiffness gives the user more towing capacity, more load carrying and higher PSI – things not everyone is looking for in an A/T tire, but this is a versatile tire for everything.
If you want that more aggressive look, if you want more towing capacity, you have it all in one tire [with the ATX]. The biggest change or improvement is the tread design and its appearance. We got feedback that the AT Pro was a great tyre, but maybe it needed to be a little sexier, just cool on the sidewall and the aesthetics people look for when looking for a tire A/T because they aren’t using it everyday off road. They have occasional off-road use. but they want it to look cool. That’s what it does. It has a cool lizard skin type texture. There is a double side wall. If you want a more conservative look, you flip it over when you mount it. This feature is unique to Nexen and we pioneered it on most of our light truck tires – you can have a more conservative sidewall or a more aggressive sidewall. We are quite proud of it. It gets good reviews so far.
MW: Very cool. Nexen also launched tires at SEMA last year: the N’Fera Sport R, which is an extreme UHP tire, and the Rodian HTX2, an all-terrain tire. So, can you give me an overview of these products and why they are released in these specific categories?
JY: Sure. Since joining Nexen, I have learned that we have many sport racing enthusiasts. So the N’Fera Sport R is really just the next evolution of our N’Fera SU4G. It’s ideal for amateur racers, for the weekend guy who just wants to have a good grip on the road and also for professionals. We also support Formula Drift and the [N’Fera Sport R] and these tires and this technology are perfect for keeping you stuck on the asphalt. Through extensive third-party testing and some of our riders we work with, we’ve found that it actually improves grip and speed. They’re pretty happy with it so far.
The Rodian HTX2 is the same thing – and product evolution. We’ve had the HTX for a number of years, and it’s OE on several vehicles. But it needed to evolve, and the biggest advantage of this tire is really its all-weather capability. It has three peak mountain certification. That’s something most highway tires can’t claim, especially under a high mileage treadwear warranty – up to 70,000 miles. This one has worked really well for us, and it continues to pick up as the light truck and SUV market grows. We have to keep up.
MW: Right. SEMA recently released a report that predicts that the market for light trucks, especially CUVs, will continue to grow. So I wanted to talk about original equipment from Nexen. I know the Roadian GTX snagged four OE gear out of four SUVs. So how does this equipment and Nexen’s OE business affect the marketability of products?
JY: It’s a huge synergy and it’s something that’s been a focus for a number of years. We really entered the OE market in the United States about 12-15 years ago, and we are one of the fastest growing OE equipment in the United States. It really pushed our brand, and obviously, brand awareness. If you have tires on your car that say one thing and you need replacements, you’re always going to revisit that brand unless there’s a problem. We have relationships with a dozen OE manufacturers in the United States, and that continues to grow. We do fitments on at least two to four vehicles every year, so it’s been good.
MW: With Nexen, so many new products have been launched recently, which is great. So, where will Nexen be heading in the Americas this year and next?
JY: With marketing, it’s brand awareness. Nexen can definitely improve. It’s something that we really emphasize: aligning ourselves with more sports teams, doing more sports marketing, doing more with our various motorsport programs. Right now we are working on an Overland Expo event and taking a road trip. It’s something that supports this light truck and SUV market, and we’re excited to align ourselves with it. We will continue to be present at trade shows like SEMA and to do things in the industry that keep Nexen at the forefront of people’s minds.
We’ve had three major tire launches since SEMA, and we’ve also launched another winter tire. So four new tires in a year for us is a big deal. We have tried and strived to do at least one a year for the past 12 years or so. This year with four, there’s just a lot of activity and a lot of excitement around her. So we’re trying to get the material out there and make sure people are aware of [the new tires] and talk about them.
MW: One way is to use the Nexen Garage, right? Can you describe for people who may not know what it is?
JY: The Nexen Garage was truly born out of feedback from our dealers. The dealers said, “Hey, I want a one-stop-shop for all your resources. You have many good guarantees. You have some really cool tech pieces. For our Nexen dealer network, our social media and social platforms allow a dealer to piggyback on our social media, which is great. And all of our logos, photos, videos – it’s all hosted in one place on the Garage. It’s an easy place for a dealer to say, okay, here’s what I need. Take it and go. They don’t look it up or call the rep saying, “Where do I go for this?” It has been really well received and is a good resource.
MW: It’s awesome. Now you mentioned four tires. Is it over, just in the last year? We are shooting this towards the end of June. So, any upcoming launches in different segments that you can share?
JY: Unfortunately, I can’t. We are a little too early in the process, but there will always be something. There are definitely things in the works for next year. There are always improvements and a few segments that we are kind of in and out of. But, yeah, we’re definitely looking at a few more launches next year.