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January 4, 2002

Am-Pac continues
TASCO tradition


Dealers who originally signed up in 1966, celebrating 35 years with Am-Pac in 2001, are (left to right, back row): Mr. And Mrs. Ray Mickan, Walburg (Williamson Co.); J.C. Pohl, Carmine (Washington Co.); Brent Murray, Am-Pac sales manager; Rick Wegwerth, Am-Pac's TFB program coordinator; Philip Jander, vice president of Am-Pac; Tom Catchings, past TASCO state manager; Travis McMorrough, retired TASCO state manager; Ken Counts, a former TASCO assistant manager. Kneeling: Tom Vogt, La Grange, Fayette County; Dale Houlette, Friona (Parmer Co.); and Mr. and Mrs. Tim Ray, Shamrock (Wheeler Co.). Thirty-five-year Farm Bureau dealers not pictured are: Harold Fietsam, Schulenburg (Fayette Co.); and Johnny Strong, Churchill (Rusk Co.).

By Lana Robinson
Field Editor

After more than 35 years, Am-Pac Tire Distributing, Inc, formerly TASCO, continues to provide quality, name-brand tires and batteries at a savings to Texas Farm Bureau members statewide.

"Even though the company has gone through ownership changes, the member advantage is just as good as ever, if not better. We have enhanced the warranty and the overall program for our members," said Rick Weg-werth, Texas Farm Bureau program coordinator for Am-Pac.

Simply by presenting your Farm Bureau membership card to any authorized Farm Bureau dealer, you get a discount on a complete line of Sigma Tires, Kelly Light Truck and Suremark batteries. Other member benefits include:

—Free prorated Road Hazard on all Sigma brand passenger tires at no extra cost.

—Free prorated Road Hazard on all Sigma, Kelly and Guardian light trucks at no extra cost.

—Free roadside assistance program, 30-day test drive, 100,000 pro-rated mileage warranty and free replacement during the first 50 percent of tread wear for manufacturing defects on Sigma Paramount Passenger tires.

—Up to two year free replacement on Suremark Batteries at no extra charge.

—Two-year prorated Field Hazard on all Front farm tires (Kelly, Firestone, BFG and Michelin) at no extra charge.

—One year free replacement for unrepairable Field Hazard on all rear farm tires at no extra charge.

Am-Pac also has the exclusive right to sell Michelin Ag tires in Texas.

Wegwerth said 2001 has been a record year for Am-Pac, adding that 50 new dealers had been signed up, bringing the number to 325 around the state. Dealers that originally signed in 1966, who celebrated 35 years with Am-Pac in 2001, include: Ray Mickan, Walburg; J.C. Pohl, Carmine; Tom Vogt, La Grange; Dale Houlette, Friona; Tim Ray, Shamrock; Harold Fietsam, Schulenburg; and Johnny Strong, Churchill.

"We're always continuing to look for dealers and improve our dealer network. We are looking for top quality dealers, and these dealers are that. They represent what Am-Pac and Farm Bureau are all about. These dealers and their loyal customers have allowed TASCO and Am-Pac to grow...," Wegwerth noted.

The Texas Agricultural Service Company started up in July of 1965 in order to serve farmer-members who were unable to find outlets for farm tires in rural areas. Originally, TASCO offered tires built by General Tire in Waco, the Safemark line. TASCO was a part of the American Farm Bureau Service Company.

"Al Grauer, who was already a Texas Farm Bureau employee, took over and started TASCO. When it started, adjusters of tires were the insurance agents," Wegwerth, who began his career as TFB program coordinator with TASCO in 1980, explained. "They called them service fieldmen. However, they did not sign up or recruit dealers. Over the years, that developed from service fieldman to salesman. They did everything, from adjusting to recruiting new dealers and signing them up.

"Travis McMorrough of West was the first hire," Wegwerth continued. " He traveled the whole state. The program continued to grow. In the late 1960s, TASCO added the Safemark line of batteries. And then in the early 1970s, they added tillage tools. That rocked along until Dec. 1991, when TASCO purchased the Service Center on Franklin in Waco."

TASCO's biggest year was 1984, when sales soared to $40 million. That year, Rio Grande Valley dealer Jimmy Hill had sales totaling $980,000.

Wegwerth said one of the biggest changes for the better in TASCO's history was when in 1988, Texas pulled out of the arangement with American Farm Bureau Service Company as a tire provider. The Safemark line was dropped and Sigma, which remains an Am-Pac product today, was added.

"The main reason for the change was quality problems. Sigma is built by Kelly. The Kelly-Goodyear product is a very good product. Our adjustment and quality problem went away," he said.

Another significant change occurred when voting delegates at a state convention in the early 1990s voted to allow Farm Bureau tire dealers to sell products to nonmembers while maintaining a better warranty package and better pricing for members only.

Wegwerth said another boost occurred following the purchase of Strauss Frank in 1994, when tire delivery service was added.

In March of 1998, TASCO was purchased by four Waco businessmen, John Green, Philip Jander, Kip Averitt and Tim Nemec, and was renamed TASCO Distributing, Inc. A Lubbock warehouse was added in May, 1999, to serve the Panhandle. TASCO Distributing was sold to Am-Pac in August, 2000. Am-Pac has warehouses in Dallas and Houston and plans to reopen a San Antonio location soon.

"The Farm Bureau tire and battery program is still a very vital part of Am-Pac's future," said Wegwerth. "We are looking for ways to add more enticements for members and dealers.

"No other distributor promotes its dealer network like we do in the Texas Farm Bureau publications, and we have a built-in clientele," Weg-werth continued. "Our Dealer's Council, which meets quarterly, are our eyes and ears. They let us know what our competitors are doing, and what we can do to better serve our dealers and members."