NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Goodyear's independent retreaders, urged on by the Akron tire maker, are stepping up training of their personnnel. As a result, the company's Personnel Development Center in Akron was booked out this year through June, whereas in previous years classes petered out as early as April, according to J.B. Jaboor, general manager, retreading systems for Goodyear.
In addition, Goodyear is set to test a revamped field training program the week of June 21 at McGee Tire Stores Inc.'s plant in Lakeland, Fla.
By turning his retread plant into a training center, McGee Tire General Manager Ron McAlpine essentially is sacrificing a week's production in the process, explained Armond Boyes, manager engineering and quality tech support for Goodyear retread systems.
Goodyear was expecting about nine southeastern Goodyear dealers to send retread shop personnel to Lakeland for training, he said.
Should that trial go well, similar sessions could be scheduled throughout the country, Mr. Jaboor said, in line with priorities expressed recently by Goodyear's retread dealer advisory board.
This 15-dealer body meets three times a year—including once with senior management—to discuss relations with Goodyear and industry trends, he said.
Another function of the advisory board is to set minimum retread plant quality standards, Mr. Jaboor said. The current board recently recommended tighter manufacturing specifications than Goodyear itself had proposed, he added.
A still new ``value-added benefit'' of being a Goodyear Authorized Retreader (GAR) is an internet-based casing exchange bulletin board, Mr. Jaboor said. Initially suggested by the advisory board, this limited access Web site allows a GAR to search for or offer casings to other GARs.
Goodyear also is considering allowing a select few independent casing brokers to participate. A three-month trial is expected to take place later this year.
Another aspect of business the board is addressing is non-destructive casing inspection procedures. As a result, this summer Goodyear is evaluating an inspection system at several of its independent retreaders.
In terms of product development, Goodyear expects the still relatively new addition of all-steel light truck tires in the market will create opportunities for retreaders willing to become familiar with customers in this business segment, Mr. Jaboor said. Goodyear sees its Unicircle spliceless tread as being particularly suited to this market segment, he added.
Goodyear only recently expanded capacity for Unicircle treads at its Social Circle, Ga., plant, he said, and has a further expansion on tap for 2000.
With 68 company-owned retread shops and 100 independent GARs across the U.S. and Canada, Goodyear feels its national coverage for large fleets is relatively complete.
``Sure we have a few pockets here and there,'' Mr. Jaboor said, ``but we're selective about new GARs. We also want to avoid layering our distribution network.''
At the ITRA expo, Goodyear demonstrated the latest developments with its GTRACs remote inventory tracking system.
To enhance the value of its Truckwise commercial tire dealer program, Goodyear has established an interactive Internet site for its 20 largest national fleet accounts, said Mark Clawson, product manager, retread systems.
Using the electronic immediacy of the GTRACs tracking system, Goodyear gathers tire and retread data collected by Truckwise dealers on a daily basis, then collates the information for each of the designated fleet customers.
This information is then posted on the Web site and each fleet can check the status of its tire inventory any time it needs an up-to-the minute status report. Among the options, a fleet manager can track retread/repair history overall, by vehicle, or by customer, Mr. Clawson said.
Making GTRACs more flexible is the recent introduction of palm-held scanners. These units allow the field technician to record all the relevant tire data electronically, then download it into his company's main system via docking terminals, Mr. Clawson explained.