Modern Tire Dealer

JUN 2019

Magazine for the professional tire industry

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M T D J u n e 2 0 1 9 74 F o c u s O n I n d u s t r y R ichard Smallwood is committed to his company's four cornerstones: have a compelling product; deliver a bet- ter than 90% fill rate; help its dealer customers have better-than-average profitability; and be easy to do business with. Smallwood, CEO and president of Sumitomo Rubber North America Inc. and an executive officer of its Japanese parent company, Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd., talked with Modern Tire Dealer during his company's recent Falken tire brand dealer invitational trip to Provence, France, to discuss these tenants and much more. While the Falken brand is known for its performance heritage, the company's growth will come from new product lines, particularly in the light truck tire side. Smallwood says the company's WildPeak A/T3W line has been a big success to the extent that the company is experiencing a low fill rate and back orders, and "we are violating one of our company's cornerstones." To alleviate the shortage, the company is moving light truck tire capacity from its Buffalo, N.Y., plant to other plants throughout the world. Falken tires for the U.S. market not being built at Buffalo come primarily from Thailand, with some from Indonesia and Japan, says Smallwood. But, the company will start producing LT tires in its China plant. Smallwood is quick to point out the China plant currently produces original equipment tires for the Japanese market, so there will be no quality issues. "Dealers also do not have to worry about any tariffs. at's our burden to bear. We'll eat the cost of any tariff. We know if we say the price will go up, the dealers simply won't buy any more tires from us." Falken also is a "non-player" in the highway terrain light truck tire category, says Smallwood, but the launch of the WildPeak H/T02 line is a step in filling that void. To further address order fill issues, Smallwood says, "Buffalo has to get fixed. I complain about it on a daily basis, but it is our fault — management's fault. We forced them to do too much, too soon. We wanted way too many things way too fast. ey weren't mentally or physically prepared for that." In comments he made to the Depart- ment of Commerce last year, Smallwood said the company would be investing roughly $80 million at its Buffalo plant to produce 15,000 tires per day there by 2020. Smallwood also discussed how the company is addressing MAP pricing, Greg Smith By Full speed ahead for Falken tire brand EXECUTIVE ADDRESSES COMPANY'S 4 CORNERSTONES OF BUSINESS Richard Smallwood (top), CEO and president of Sumitomo Rubber North America Inc. and an executive officer of its Japanese parent company, Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd., addressed the retail and wholesale tire dealers and guests during the Falken tire brand dealer invitational trip to Provence, France, in May.

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