AKRON-As the largest commercial dealership in North America, Tire Centers Inc. believes it only makes sense to also have a large in-house truck tire retreading operation. Acting on that philosophy, TCI has been making strides, through acquisitions and construction, toward become one of the continent's largest retreaders.
The company first appeared on TIRE BUSINESS's retreader ranking last year in 22nd place. This year, TCI is the third-largest truck tire retreader in North America, based on daily production of more than 1,000 truck retreads, annual tread rubber consumption of 6.5 million pounds and operation of nine plants in 1994.
That complement has already grown during the first quarter of this year with TCI's acquisition of Sedalia Bandag's plant in Sedalia, Mo., and the construction of a retread shop near its commercial outlet in Statesville, N.C.
The Akron-based company believes retreading and commercial truck tire service go hand-in-hand, and its added focus on retreading is ``a natural progression for us,'' said Richard Hall, TCI vice president.
The 10-year-old operation, created out of the purchase of former BFGoodrich tire stores, opened its first retreading plant in 1990.
Since its beginnings, the dealership, with 106 truck tire outlets (nine that are exclusively commercial; 97 that combine commercial and retail business), has ``always been heavy in the commercial area. We always knew we needed retreading, but we had enough on our plate,'' Mr. Hall said. ``Now we're more mature (as a company).''
Mr. Hall said retreading is necessary for TCI to more fully service its customers, and the company needs to build up that end of the business. TCI, which uses the Bandag retreading system, plans to open more plants in the future, he added.
If the past is any indicator, TCI will more than likely add plants through acquisitions. ``We tend to grow on an opportunistic basis,'' he acknowledged.
At this point, TCI still is buying a ``substantial'' amount of its retreads. Its commercial outlets are located throughout the U.S. In some markets, where TCI outlets are few and far between, it makes sense to outsource truck tire retreading, Mr. Hall said. But where outlets are clustered together and circumstances justify it, TCI would like to have its own retread plant to service them, he said.