HARTVILLE, Ohio-As the fork lift industry continues to boom, so does Monarch Industrial Tire Co. The Hartville-based industrial tire maker is spending $3.47 million in capital improvements this year, capping a five-year, $7.5 million investment plan to double its capacity and sales by the close of 1995. It's also investing $1.73 million to boost capacity for press-on solid and pneumatic-shaped tires, mixing and rim production.
That's good news for many tire dealers, who say demand is so strong that many industrial tire makers have fallen behind and can't produce enough.
According to Monarch President Tim Ryan, the project also includes:
adding a $900,000 carbon black system which will increase productivity 25 percent and free up about 40,000 square feet in floor space;
acquiring $450,000 in molds;
investing $150,000 to relocate its corporate offices to the center of its 400,000-sq.-ft. plant;
installing a $100,000 computer network for its distribution centers;
purchasing a viscometer for $40,000; and
spending $100,000 on miscellaneous maintenance upgrades.
The Swiss-owned Trelleborg A.B. subsidiary last year spent $1.9 million to hike capacity for press-on tires by 66 percent and add a new software system.
By year's end, Monarch will have the capacity to produce 625,000 press-on tires and 125,000 pneumatic-shaped resilient tires. The company produces tires for forklifts, mining machinery, industrial trailers, towing tractors, military vehicles, construction loaders, scissor lifts, paving equipment, sweepers and scrubbers.
Internal manufacturing and quality gains, consistent in-house mixing and a strong relationship with Trelleborg have enabled Monarch to capitalize on the booming forklift industry, Mr. Ryan said.
Since acquiring the industrial tire unit of the former Teledyne Monarch Rubber Co. in April 1991, Monarch each year has lowered its manufacturing cost per tire while increasing its profitability, despite spiraling health care and raw materials costs, said Gary Bernardo, vice president of manufacturing.
Monarch has benefited greatly from the resources of Trelleborg and its Bergougnan Sri Lanka solid tire division. Before 1991, the Hartville unit suffered from its then-parent firm Teledyne Inc.'s focus on automotive parts, Mr. Ryan explained.
Trelleborg's background in the rubber and tire industries and its financial backing have made the last four years at Monarch a much more pleasant experience, he said.
Further helping Monarch reach its goals is ``an exploding'' material handling industry. The firm-which derived 80 percent of its $41.8 million in 1994 sales from forklift tire sales-has added 300 aftermarket dealers and significantly boosted its market share in the sector the past few years, Mr. Ryan said.
Those supporting the material handling industry now are cashing in on years of pent-up demand for original equipment forklifts. Monarch, Mr. Ryan said, benefits in both the OE and aftermarket sectors from new lift truck sales.
``The old ones don't just die and go to the bone yard. They go into smaller mom-and-pop businesses. They're still out there and they need tires,'' he said.
Harry Bruno, who purchases industrial tires for Quimby Material Handling Inc., confirmed the forklift industry is booming and demand is so strong industrial tire makers like Monarch are falling behind.
Quimby, which usually buys only Monarch tires, has had to wait almost four weeks for shipments Monarch used to make overnight. Mr. Bruno, also the company's general aftermarket manager, said Quimby and many other dealerships are ordering more tires from Monarch ``just to ensure we have product on the floor when it is needed.'' The firm just ordered 60 of its most common tires, rather than its normal order of 20, he said, ``so we didn't have to wait.''
Mr. Ryan acknowledged Monarch was behind in shipments, but said installation of a third injection molding press in April would allow it to meet demand and replenish inventory. ``Right now, every tire we make we've already sold.''
Monarch hopes to increase its sales 32 percent in 1995 to about $55 million. Mr. Ryan said the firm's long-term goals include quadrupling sales during this decade. ``By the end of the '90s, we feel we have a good chance to be a $100-million company.''