LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Goodyear is committed to retreading and now views the segment as part of its core business. That's the broad message Eugene Culler, the tire maker's executive vice president for North American tires, delivered in his keynote address at the International Tire and Rubber Association's World Tire Conference in Louisville, April 18.
``If you carry only one thought out of here today, (it's that): Goodyear is now treating retreading as a core business—as opposed to a support function of our new- tire sales,'' he said.
And, while the company is not looking ``to hog the marketplace in the future'' Goodyear does plan to be aggressive, he said.
``We intend to expand by offering the potential retreader, many of which already are Goodyear dealers, an integrated commercial proposition unequaled by any other potential partner,'' he said.
Mr. Culler said all elements—new tires and retreading—are important to the overall success of the business. And he predicted it's only a matter of time before other tire makers ``join us in this arena.''
In describing the retreading industry, Mr. Culler said there are two ``dinosaurs'' out there—the traditional tire makers and the tread rubber manufacturers—working to protect their turf.
Commercial tire dealers represent the playing field, he said. ``And when dinosaurs fight, they usually tear up the grass.''
To survive and prosper in such an environment, commercial dealers must participate in as many profit opportunities as possible during the tire's life cycle, such as retreading, wheel balancing, repair, 24-hour tire service, emergency road service, wheel and rim finishing, or alignment.
The medium commercial truck tire and retreading business is ``enormous'' and has a ``bright future,'' Mr. Culler told his audience.
The industry consumes nearly 600 million pounds of tread rubber and produces about 16 million retreaded medium and heavy truck tires annually, he said.
In addition, nearly all of the world's airlines use retreaded tires, as do most off-the-road, heavy-duty vehicles and school and municipal buses, cargo jets and high performance fighter aircraft.
Mr. Culler cited the trends impacting trucking today: the growth in size of large vocational carriers, which are gobbling up market share, yet still half of the trucks on the road today are registered to smaller fleets; the shift in focus from trucking to dedicated/ integrated logistics services; the growth in expedited package delivery and in truck leasing; and intrastate deregulation, which will impact local trucking markets.
And these companies want out of the tire business, he said.
To keep abreast of these trends and changes, Mr. Culler said Goodyear conducted a telephone survey of 400 fleets to find out what was important them.
The tire maker, which was not identified in the survey, found that what fleets' wanted was:
The availability of new and retreaded tires from an outlet—preferably of the same design;
Tire management services from dealers;
Certified and trained staff;
A dedicated sales force;
A positive past experience with an outlet;
Location, with an emphasis on nationwide networks; and
Twenty-four hour emergency road service.
Looking at purchasing, Mr. Culler said the survey found an increase last year in the number of fleets buying only one brand of tire—both new and retread—``searching, if you like, for a consistent high quality partner.''
Based on the results of the survey, he said commercial tire dealers of the 21st century must:
Provide certified service;
Offer new and retread products;
Offer a full range of service 24 hours a day;
Be part of a network to provide required coverage to national, and eventually global fleets; and
Assume full responsibility for fleet tire programs, which require computerized tire management tools.