Titan Wheel International Inc.'s appetite for buying up competitors continued in 1994. During the year, the Quincy, Ill.-based manufacturer of tires, wheels and rims for off-highway vehicles bought two firms, including Pirelli Armstrong Tire Corp.'s Des Moines, Iowa, farm tire plant, while boosting sales through the first nine months by nearly 200 percent.
Titan began 1994 with the January purchase of Ventura, Iowa- based Nieman's Ltd., a national distributor of tires, wheels, axle assemblies and related parts. The deal gave Titan more than 20 manufacturing and distribution centers in 12 states and two European countries.
Most surprising to industry analysts, however, was the July 16 purchase of PATC's farm tire plant.
The plant's sale, for an undisclosed amount, marked PATC'sexit from the North American farm tire market, the only area in which it had a significant share.
PATC had held an estimated 20-percent share of both the rear farm tractor replacement tire and original equipment fields. The company said the move would allow it to focus on its passenger and light truck tire business.
Although United Rubber Workers' union members struck the Des Moines plant one day before the sale, most employees had returned to work after a temporary pact with Titan was approved Sept. 1.
Titan is operating the Des Moines plant at about 80 percent of capacity with approximately 530 workers, a company spokeswoman said. Through a licensing agreement with PATC, Titan continues to use the Armstrong brand name on farm tires produced at the plant.
Titan's 1994 purchases, as well as its November 1993 buyout of Dyneer Corp., parent of industrial tire maker Dico Tire Inc., continued to aid the company's bottom line throughout the year. The firm said its net earnings for the first nine months grew 164 percent to $13.2 million compared with the year earlier period.