NASHVILLE, Tenn.-Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. has entered into an agreement with Treadco Inc., North America's second-largest medium truck tire retreader, to develop an experimental mold-cure retreading facility. The new plant, to be located in an unspecified site in the Midwest and owned by Treadco, will use tread rubber supplied by Bridgestone/Firestone.
The tire maker said it also will provide technical support for the facility, drawing on the expertise of its parent company, Bridgestone Corp., which operates six mold-cure shops in Japan, where it has more than 40 years of retreading experience.
The new plant will open in the second half of 1995 and produce retreads with the Bridgestone-Treadco name molded into the tread.
``Producing the best quality cas-ing for retreading has been a primary focus for Bridgestone and has definitely been a major contributor to our success in the U.S.,'' said Pete Bogantinoff, BFS coordinator of the retreading project. ``By being involved in this project with Treadco, our company can continue to learn even more about the retreading process as it affects Bridgestone tires and gain firsthand knowledge and experience on casing retreadability.''
For the past nine years, tire dealers and retreaders have ranked Bridgestone truck tires tops in retreadability in an annual survey conducted by The Tire Retreading/Repair Journal, a publication of the American Retreaders' Association.
At a press conference following his keynote address at the recent ARA World Tire Conference, John Lampe, president of Bridgestone/Firestone Tire Sales Co., said the tire maker's primary interest in the retread venture is to learn how retreading affects the casing. He added that, unlike its major truck tire competitors, Goodyear and Michelin North America, BFS doesn't have the advantage of owning retread shops in which it can conduct controlled testing using proprietary technology.
However, BFS does have two large retread concerns of its own in North America-GCR Truck Tire Centers, based in Akron, and Bridgestone/Firestone Canada Inc., headquarter in Mississauga, Ontario, with 15 and nine Bandag shops, respectively.
Walt Weller, BFS division vice president of truck tire sales, said BFS made a conscious decision not to use its in-house operations to avoid any potential misunderstandings with current customers.
Mr. Lampe wouldn't speculate on where the project might lead, noting it will be a year before the company begins seeing the results of the retreads' performance. ``I hope very much it works and Treadco likes the process,'' he said.
Treadco President J.J. Seiter expressed excitement about the project. ``It's a new venture,'' he said. ``We think we can be successful with it, and we're going to give it a whirl.''
The addition of a mold cure retread plant is a first for Treadco. The Fort Smith, Ark.-based firm currently operates 26 plants nationwide-all using the Bandag precure retreading process.
``We're exploring every available retreading option, and this gives us some other options,'' Mr. Seiter said. ``This allows us to get into every segment of the market.''
Beyond the mold cure venture, Treadco also is opening its first retread plant in Las Vegas. That shop, which should open by May 1, will employ the Hercules/Cedco precure process and features a tread builder from A-Z Formen-und Maschinenbau GmbH.
In conjunction with the Las Vegas plant, Treadco has opened a sales outlet in Fontana, Calif., (near Los Angeles) and will try to work these new marketing territories using retreads primarily from the Las Vegas plant, Mr. Seiter said.