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Published on February 2, 1998

AG TIRE MARKET HEATS UP

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Being a farm tire dealer never was easy. But with all the recent advancements in tire design and new manufacturers entering the picture, the business of keeping North America's tractors and farm equipment rolling is becoming even more challenging. Michelin North America's decision to begin offering its own line of farm tires and to reintroduce the BFGoodrich brand to the ag business is just one of the elements putting this market into flux.

Add to that Titan Tire Corp.'s newly introduced Grizz LSW low-profile tire/wheel assembly—so different in design from traditional ag tires that existing tire load and inflation tables don't apply.

Throw in a batch of other new designs; some featuring wider tread profiles for flotation and reduced soil compaction; others with thinner profiles for narrow row crop planting; some boasting higher ply ratings for use on heavier implement vehicles; still others capable of highway speeds of 30 mph or more.

Finally, top off that list with another development worth watching: farm tractors using belt-like tracks rather than conventional tires.

The result is one tough business that just got even more complicated. Yet this is just the sort of environment in which independent tire dealers flourish while many competitors flounder.

Satisfying the tire needs of today's farmer requires a true professional—someone who:

Understands and can explain the respective differences among and advantages of the various ag tire designs;

Has the know-how and equipment necessary to service the many different types of farm vehicles—in the field, when necessary;

Maintains a tire inventory sufficient to keep the farmer's downtime to a minimum; and, most important,

Does whatever it takes to satisfy the customer.

Successful farm tire dealers offer an example of what the independent tire dealer is all about. Farmers value their services as necessary to keeping the farm in operation even while the complexity and difficulty of their market keeps would-be competitors out. It's one place where independents will continue to rule the roost!

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