Modern Tire Dealer

APR 2019

Magazine for the professional tire industry

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Page 43 of 85

M T D A p r i l 2 0 1 9 42 and expects similar or higher growth this year, according to Sonny Simpson, managing director. TravelCenters of America LLC, which holds the No. 92 spot, opened its first TA Commercial Tire Network Retread Center in July 2018. Located in Bowling Green, Ohio, the plant is part of the Goodyear Authorized Retread Network. TravelCenters opened the retread plant just two years aer launching the TA Truck Service Commercial Tire Network. Before opening the retread plant, the company had stated it was contracting with 140 company-owned and independent retreading shops to offer Goodyear and Bandag retreads. "We continue to contract with many outside retread plants," says Bob Eck, vice president of TA Truck Service Commercial Tire Network. "However, as our business has grown, we've needed additional retreading support. We've found that having our own retread plant allows us more flexibility in managing the cradle-to-grave process quickly and efficiently, as we move further into the full-service space." Approximately 75% of what the company sells in retreads still comes from contracted plants, according to Eck. "e remaining 25% is distributed to TA Truck Service facilities, fleets, local industries and tire dealers all within a 150-mile radius of Bowling Green, Ohio, by our TA Commercial Tire Network Retread Center." Eck is optimistic about the retreading business in 2019. "Retreads are a critical component of managing tire expenses for fleets. In addition, I expect the U.S. govern- ment's decision to levy tariffs on new truck and bus tires from China will foster growth in the retread market in the coming year." READY FOR THE DEMAND Brandon Keilers is owner and president of Houston-based Keilers Holdings Inc., which operates four Cy-Fair Tire commercial stores and a 17,000-square-foot Oliver retread plant. Keilers expects the market to "end up being back where we were" because Chinese production will shi to countries without tariffs. "Instead of low-cost import tires from China disrupting the market, it will be low-cost import tires from Vietnam or Sri Lanka or India." While Keilers is prepared for an uptick in demand for retreads, the tariffs create challenges for other parts of his busi- ness. "is makes me scramble to find new tires at affordable prices for customers. I've had more manufacturers approach me that I've never heard of from these (non-tariff) countries now. ey're coming out of the woodwork to try and supply that demand." e majors will see an opportunity to increase their prices to match the increase in the price of Chinese import tires, according to Keilers, whose company holds the No. 66 spot in the rankings. "e tariffs will not level the playing field because the difference in cost between a Michelin and a Chinese tire is going to remain the same." Keilers notes that while margins are higher on Chinese imports than on retreads, he is ready to meet market demands. "Anywhere I could see an increase in business, I would love to. If the retreading did double overnight, we would make sure we're up to speed and producing what we need to." Keilers' father, Ronnie, and a business partner started Cy-Fair Tire in 1979 in Houston. e company offered auto repair services, mufflers, tires and fuel in leased space in a former gas station. Eventually, the partners focused on servicing tires for commercial fleets. Brandon bought out his father's partner in 2000. At first the father and son had no employees, were working out of the leased space, and mounted and balanced tires in a used 40-foot shipping container. In 2004, the Keilers purchased the prop- erty. ey opened the retread plant in 2006 and took steps to expand the business by adding service trucks, a foam filling service, and employees. e company has grown greatly in the last few years. The newest Cy-Fair Tire location opened in Beaumont, Texas, in January 2019. e Brenham, Texas, store opened in January 2018. ere are also two stores in Houston. e company provides passenger and commercial tire services, foam filling, mobile forkli tire pressing, mobile commercial alignments and 24-hour road service along with Oliver retreading. GROWING 20% A YEAR Four years ago, Dennis Beaudette Sr., owner of Industrial Tire of CNY LLC, renovated a 30,000-square-foot building to create space for a new division, Syracuse Retreaders LLC. Today he runs the retread plant along with his sons, Dennis Jr., vice president, and Marty, plant manager. Syracuse Retreaders' only customer is Industrial Tire, a full-service commercial store which the elder Beaudette founded in 2002. e Syracuse area is a freight transporta- tion hub and home to many construction companies. Industrial Tire offers commercial tire sales and services, including roadside assistance for trucks and off-road vehicles, foam filling, wheel reconditioning and preventive fleet maintenance. Up to 2015, Industrial Tire sourced retread tires from vendors whose plants were miles away. en in 2015, Syracuse Retreaders opened and became the sole supplier to Industrial Tire. Today, retreading represents about 35% of Industrial Tire's business. "ere wasn't a retreader in the Syracuse area at all, so we took that opportunity," says Dennis Jr. "We knew there was a market for retreading because we were picking up so many casings at a time." Despite the availability of low-cost import tires, the retread business grew. "e first year was a struggle, but then we started picking up new business and clients. Now we're trying to keep up with all the work," says the younger Beaudette. Business at Syracuse Retreaders is now growing about 20% year over year. The company, which holds the No. 98 spot on our list, uses the Goodyear precure process and is part of the Goodyear Authorized Retread Network. Beaudette expects business to continue to grow for reasons beyond the tariffs. "Our sales force is slowly growing, and we're gaining a great reputation around the Syracuse area." Plant tours have proven to be an effec- tive tool for turning retread doubters into retread customers. "Some people have an idea in their head that retreaded tires can blow. Once they see the technology, they change their minds," says Beaudette. ■ T o p 5 0 R e t r e a d e r s Southern Tire Mart's John Boynton says the company is optimistic the quality of all import tires will continue to improve, providing more of a retreadable tire. COURTESY OF SOUTHERN TIRE MART

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