DALLAS-Retreaders not calling on the U.S. Postal Service may be missing out on the year's biggest sales opportunity, according to William E. Messitt, a vehicle maintenance analyst for that government-owned corporation. Mr. Messitt, speaking at a seminar on ``the future of truck tire retreading,'' Sept. 10, during the National Tire Dealers & Retread-ers Association convention, said the Postal Service wants to use more retreads in order to cut tire costs. He urged tire dealers and retreaders to do their part and make the most of this opportunity.
Technically speaking, the Postal Service is a quasi private corporation and therefore isn't bound by the Environmental Protection Agency's mandate that all federal agencies use retreads ``whenever possible.''
Nevertheless, the Postal Service also has made the use of retreads mandatory in order to reduce costs and do what is right for the environment, Mr. Messitt explained.
``We have encouraged our vehicle maintenance facilities to look at retreading,'' he told dealers. ``But I feel as though I have to encourage you folks to look at us as a market. And if the vehicle maintenance facility doesn't look for you, I urge you-I plead with you-please go knock on their door!''
In this way, said Mr. Messitt, who two years ago wrote the Postal Service order making retreads mandatory, ``I can push from one end; you can push from the other.'' Getting the Postal Service's maintenance personnel to use retreads has not always been easy, he said.
``It's taken a lot of convincing-a lot of pushing and shoving-to get them convinced they really need to do this,'' he said.
With 200,000 vehicles on the road, the Postal Service operates what is probably the largest fleet in the world, according to Mr. Messitt.
Increased use of retreads, he explained, is part of an overall effortby the Postal Service to reduce the number of sizes and types of vehicles it uses. ``What we're aiming at is making the fleet easier to maintain and reducing our inventory of parts-the largest percentage of which is tires.
``We used to have about $25 million (worth of tires) in inventory at any given time across the country. In last five years, we've re-duced our inventory to just $15 million.''
As a result this effort, the Postal Service's fleet basically has been reduced to four types of vehicles:
Jeeps (which use P185/75B14 and P205/75B15 sized tires);
Long Life Vehicles or LLVs, the ``little, white snub-nosed vehicle seen floating around your neighborhood,'' (which uses an LT195/75R14 size);
two-ton vehicles (which use size 8R19.5); and
seven- and nine-ton cargo vans and tractors and trailers (all of which use size 11R22.5 tires).
By the end of 1994, he said, the Postal Service will have 142,000 LLVs, each of which has four tires-``that we're trying to retread as often as possible,'' Mr. Messitt said.
``If we retread two tires, assuming we put retreads on the front and new tires on the rear, that's more than a quarter million retreads over a two-year period just for that vehicle alone. ``If you want to get into (our) market,'' he told dealers and retreaders, ``that's certainly a target.''
Back in 1992, according to Mr. Messitt, retreads accounted for 50,000 out of a total of 265,000 tires purchased by the Postal Service at a cost of $12.6 billion. In 1993, the Service purchased 256,000 tires of which 63,000 were retreads (rising from 18.9 to 24.6 percent of total tire purchases).
Meanwhile, the number of vehicles operated by the Postal Service rose from 179,000 in 1992 to 187,000 last year. Yet the number of tires purchased decreased by more than 20,000 units.
``We bought fewer tires in '93 and we retreaded more. We had more vehicles and yet we saved money. There's one of the biggest reasons for retreading,'' Mr. Messitt said.
This year, with 200,000 vehicles in use, the Postal Service has again increased its use of retreads, he said, estimating they will account for 76,000 (or 28.3 percent) of the 269,000 tires used in 1994.
``That's (a numerical) increase of about 20 percent over 1993 and 52 percent over 1992-and we're not done. We've got targets that are yet to be recognized,'' Mr. Messitt said.
``We are urging our people to retread more and we're looking to you to provide those services. We are depending on you in order to achieve those goals,'' he told dealers and retreaders.
``...I encourage you to approach our vehicle maintenance facilities around the country-there are 189 of them. They've got to be somewhere in your neighborhood. Look them up in the Blue Pages of your telephone book. See if you can't get their business.''