HOUSTON—It has taken Houston-based Intercontinental Resources Inc. a mere four years to become the largest independent exporter of agricultural tires to Mexico. Currently, the company handles an astounding 80 percent of the country's original equipment tractor contracts.
IRI is so dominant a player in its niche market that company founder and President Richard Diaz claims he'll hold 100 percent of the OE tractor contracts in Mexico in only a few years.
That goal is clearly in sight following the company's opening of its second Mexican tire-and-wheel assembly plant and distribution center in partnership with Titan Wheel International Inc. A grand opening celebration is scheduled for Jan. 22.
The newly constructed, 50,000-sq.-ft. facility, located in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, opened in October and was up to full production and distribution capacity by December, according to Mr. Diaz, who said he started IRI in 1990 in order to export tires for his former employer, Pirelli Armstrong Tire Co.
Since 1994, IRI has been assembling and selling Titan agricultural and other off-highway tire and wheel packages in Mexico. And the partnership has served them well, Mr. Diaz said.
After only seven years of business, IRI expects 1997 sales of $20 million from exports to 17 countries and a wholesale operation in Texas that IRI started two years ago.
The company's full line of products also include Pirelli, Armstrong, Dico and Fidelity brand tires.
The Monterrey Titan/IRI OE Assembly facility devotes half its space to producing tire-and-wheel packages for just-in-time delivery to tractor makers, including the Mexican subsidiaries of John Deere, Case International and New Holland.
With the addition of the Monterrey facility, IRI expects to command 90 percent of the OE tractor market by the end of this year.
Mr. Diaz said the company had to have the assembly plant in Mexico in order to maintain its just-in-time delivery schedule. Assembling the packages in the country is cheaper than exporting completed packages to Mexico, as well, he noted.
With its niche carved, the company is beginning a push to become better known—especially among potential Texas tire dealer customers, Mr. Diaz said.
``As a company, we're 7 years old. We're a very young company,'' he noted. ``We've carved our niche and kept quiet over the years. Now we're in a position to market ourselves.''
Although the company's mainstay is agricultural tires, it also deals with industrial, light truck, passenger and medium and heavy truck lines, as well, Mr. Diaz said.
IRI's first Mexican distribution center opened in 1993 in Culiacan, Sinaloa. That location holds 30,000 square feet of warehouse and office space, devoted primarily to the company's replacement market business.