HARRISONBURG, Va.-One of North America's largest retreaders has rescued Achievor Tire from the scrap heap after a snafu over the tire remolder's lease forced it to close the doors of its Chicago plant last month. Ray Carr Tires Inc., for 29 years a Harrisonburg-based retail/commercial dealership and retreader, has purchased Achievor's equipment and name for an undisclosed price from Lakin General Corp.
Achievor's future, at best, was uncertain when the limited partnership that ran the company had its lease terminated by Lakin General, its Chicago-based landlord. The bead-to-bead tire remanufacturer then halted production, leaving several large customers to snatch up remaining inventory.
Achievor Tire L.P. had taken over the operation of Lakin's remolded tire division in late 1993 but leased Lakin's equipment and 70,000-sq.-ft. plant, as well as rights to the Achievor brand name.
Carr's acquisition now vaults the dealership to or near the top of the list of the continent's biggest passenger/light truck tire retreaders.
It also gives a substantial boost to the company's fledgling bead-to-bead operation, which got off the ground earlier this year with the debut of its ``Desert Storm'' remolded light truck tire, currently marketed by Del-Nat Tire Corp.
``We see an opportunity in bead-to-bead, so this gives us complete coverage in all the sizes, and really increases our capacity,'' said Raymond E. Carr Jr., president and owner of Ray Carr Tires, in an interview with TIRE BUSINESS.
Currently, Ray Carr Tires' three plants produce a total of almost 700 passenger and light truck and 500 to 600 medium truck retreads daily. When it was shuttered, Achievor's daily output was about 1,000 remanufactured tires.
Mr. Carr said he plans to integrate the Achievor equipment into his existing 50,000-sq.-ft. Harrisonburg plant, which sits on a 30-acre, mostly vacant parcel and has a capacity in excess of 500,000 units annually. He was unsure when Achievor production would be at full speed, though he was hopeful certain portions will be before year's end.
Whether that would eventually necessitate expansion ``all depends on supply and demand,'' he said.
Of the Achievor customers Mr. Carr has contacted since the acquisition, he said all want to continue purchasing the tires.
``We want to look at the business Achievor had and try to retain as much of it as we can,'' he said. ``We didn't buy this thing to put it in mothballs. . . .''
Chuckling, he added: ``We may call it the `New Achievor.' ''
Lately, soft new-tire prices have had an adverse affect on passenger tire retreading, Mr. Carr said, although demand has been strong for his light-truck product.
With its modern equipment and full complement of sizes, the Achievor line gives his company performance tire molds it didn't have, as well as 60-series and some snow tire sizes, ``so it'll open up a lot of avenues for us.''
He also will take a look at the export business Achievor launched about five months ago, ``and if it was profitable, we'll pursue it.''
When Achievor's limited partnership appeared stymied by the estimated $1.5 million cost to relocate the plant, and literally ran out of time to pursue that option, Lakin considered resuming operation of the plant it had established a little over 10 years ago.
But Dick Gust, executive vice president of Lakin and a former president of Achievor's tire manufacturing division, said Lakin ``had many other avenues'' it was pursuing, and felt it ``could not do justice'' to the remold business.
Lakin General-a wholly owned subsidiary of A. Lakin & Sons, operated by Lewis Lakin-then began looking for other suitors. It settled on the ``logical choice: Ray Carr,'' according to Mr. Gust.
``We've had a business relationship with Ray for many years, selling him casings,'' he said.
Lakin also has pledged its support to Ray Carr Tires.
``Ray is just getting into bead-to-bead production,'' Mr. Gust explained. ``We have a lot of expertise that we've acquired, and special procedures we've implemented that make the process easier, and we're going to help Ray with those processes, such as whitewall tire production.''
The move of Achievor's equipment to Harrisonburg-including buffers and 52 tire presses-already has begun and should be completed by mid-September, he said.
Lakin has asked the City of Chicago to rezone the land on which the tire factory stands from its current industrial status to commercial, which could encompass uses such as shopping malls.
The property, which Mr. Gust called ``extremely valuable,'' is for sale. However, if it doesn't get rezoned, then Lakin has ``entertained the possibility'' of expanding its large tire recycling business into the old plant.
He took issue with the recent characterization by the limited partnership that when it bought Lakin's tire remold business three years ago it was ``teetering on the verge of bankruptcy.''
``Lakin General has been a successful tire recycling business for over 75 years,'' Mr. Gust stated. ``We never were near bankruptcy. That was totally misleading.''
He admitted Lakin suffered losses when Sears, Roebuck and Co. abandoned its catalog operation, from which Lakin's remold business had accrued nearly 80 percent of its sales. Shortly afterward, Lakin decided to sell the operation and concentrate on other areas of recycling.
``What we're really doing now is helping keep the Achievor brand going,'' he said, ``by finding a home we think can market it properly.''
Meanwhile, Lakin is focusing on its national contracts to collect waste tires from companies including Sears, Montgomery Ward & Co., Pep Boys and Penske Corp.
It culls through the tires to find those it can resell as used tires or retreadable casings. It also has facilities that die-cut certain parts from some of the scrap tires or shreds them for use as tire-derived fuel.
``We're also looking to crumb rubber production and making feedstock,'' Mr. Gust said.