ORLANDO, Fla.—Goodyear is integrating its previously separate new-tire and retread operations in order to create a single, unified marketing organization, dedicated to furnishing commercial fleet customers with ``cradle-to-grave'' tire service. Details of this restructuring—uniting the company's commercial tire operations in both the original equipment and replacement markets with those carried out in supplying materials and equipment to authorized Goodyear retreaders in North America—were outlined at the company's dealer meeting in Orlando, Feb. 9-12.
Also introduced were two computerized retread processing machines and a video-based retread training program—reflective of what officials are calling the ``increased focus on retreading'' of North America's largest tire manufacturing company.
Goodyear hopes this increased emphasis on retreading and an integrated sales-marketing structure puts it in good position to wage what Executive Vice President of North American Tires Gene Culler called a ``coordinated attack on the commercial market.''
Including some 165 Goodyear-authorized retreaders, the company's commercial tire sales and service network now includes more than 900 independent dealers who sell truck tires.
Goodyear presently is examining commercial vehicle registrations on a market-by-market basis to determine whether it's getting its ``fair share'' of the potential business within each. In those markets where it is not, officials plan to take whatever action is necessary to bolster the company's representation there.
Donn Kramer, who as marketing director for commercial tires heads the newly integrated unit, acknowledged that ``cradle-to-grave'' service is hardly a new concept either for Goodyear or the tire industry at large.
The company has been deeply involved in the individual aspects of cradle-to-grave service, such as OE and replacement tire sales and retreading. ``But we hadn't bundled those together effectively enough to truly grow the business the way we'd like,'' Mr. Kramer said. ``The new integrated structure should afford us this ability and give us the methodology to do that.''
Up to now, he said, Goodyear's OE and replacement truck tire sales organizations, as well as those of its retreading, tire leasing and commercial tire and service centers, all have operated independently—each pursuing its own objective.
One purpose of integration, Mr. Kramer said, is to ``focus attention on a common objective'' and establish a ``common theme for the whole commercial organization.'' Now dealers and retreaders can expect to receive a single, consistent message coming from the commercial business unit as a whole.
One big reason for Goodyear's increasing emphasis on retreading, Mr. Kramer explained, is the fact that retreads accounted for an estimated 16 million of the approximately 33 million truck tires sold industrywide during 1996, including OE.
He pointed out that the sale of each new or retreaded tire presents the commercial dealer with an opportunity to earn a profit, not only on the tire itself, but also on the support services accompanying that sale.
``Goodyear wants its dealers to participate in as many profit opportunities (as possible) during the tire's life cycle,'' Mr. Kramer added.
Both the new automated casing buffer and the one-step, precure tread builder the company introduced at the meeting are being made specifically for Goodyear by Matteuzzi srl of Bologna, Italy.
The new units join the Matteuzzi-produced G-100 high-pressure tire tester, which debuted last year as the first of a series of anticipated Goodyear retreading machinery.
``Our goal is for commercial dealers to consider Goodyear a viable, world-class replacement for any existing retread system,'' said Joe Zekoski, general manager of Goodyear's retread systems. He said Goodyear wants to become ``the partner of choice'' for non-retreading commercial dealers willing to invest in such production equipment for long-term growth.
According to Mr. Zekoski, Goodyear's new RAS-90 buffer eliminates operator variance by automatically buffing the tire to measurements programmed by the dealer and stored in the computer's memory.
The new buffer's automatic measurement feature, he said, ensures exact repeatability in regard to casing diameter, crown width, radius, shoulder angle and overall buff—meanwhile freeing shop employees to perform other production operations.
The buffer reportedly completes its operation in three minutes, without overbuffing or requiring template changes. A built-in detection device indicates the distance to the tire's belt package and automatically stops the unit's carriage from advancing. ``The end result is a casing that meets exact dimensions and has an excellent buffed texture,'' Mr. Zekoski said.
Goodyear's RAS-505 tread builder also is designed to improve retread manufacturing efficiency by simultaneously applying cushion gum and precured tread.
``Most retreaders today apply uncured cushion gum to the casing, stitch it down and then apply precured rubber on top,'' Mr. Zekoski explained.
``The Precure Builder combines these procedures into one automated operation, reducing cycle time and costs associated with retread tire manufacturing.''
He said the unit is capable of processing 20 tires per hour in sizes ranging from 195/75R14 through 12.00R24.
Meanwhile, the training programs for retreaders and commercial tire sales personnel also announced at the Orlando meeting will set new benchmarks for employee knowledge and abilities within the Goodyear commercial tire service network, according to Barry Petrea, marketing manager of commercial tire sales.
The new certification-based training programs, which take participants all the way from the basics to advanced levels, are designed to assure that commercial tire service personnel have all the correct information, Mr. Petrea said.
Later this year, Goodyear expects to unveil a new G300-series drive-axle truck tire, the G302.
The new tire is said to combine improved fuel efficiency with longer tread life and is intended for use in tandem-axle applications for line-haul service.
The G302 is not expected to replace any existing tire, officials said.