RALEIGH, N.C.—There is another new "e-commerce" venture in the tire industry—one specifically designed for retreaders. John Flake, whose family formerly owned a retread shop, and Jack Waggoner, owner and president of Orient Pacific Corp. (OPC) in Scottsdale, Ariz., have formed E-tread.com Inc.
"It's a business-to-business portal designed for use by the retreading community," said Mr. Flake, president of E-tread.
Mr. Flake grew up working at the family-owned Flake's Tire Service, which was founded in Clinton, N.C., by his father. He also was a sales representative for Marangoni Tread S.p.A. in the early 1980s, and that's when he first met Mr. Waggoner.
In 1971 Mr. Waggoner founded OPC, an international distributor of retreading supplies and equipment. It is the North American distributor for the German extruder maker A-Z Formen- und Maschinenbau GmbH.
After the Flake family's retreading business closed in 1985, Mr. Flake entered the computer business and specialized in business-to-business information services.
The company he now works for markets business software, including a wholesale application.
Last June, Mr. Flake attended the International Tire and Rubber Association World Tire Expo in Nashville, Tenn., "to see if there was any business for the company I was working for."
While working the show floor, he renewed many acquaintances from his retreading days, including Mr. Waggoner, and they subsequently conceived the idea for E-tread. It took about 100 hours to develop the Web site prior to E-tread first going online in early October, Mr. Flake said.
E-tread's Internet site (www.e-tread.com) has two main features: a sales area and an auction area. The sales area is designed for selling supplies—buffing blades and tread cement, for example—and small lots of odd-sized retreads in a secure environment, he said. Once a company or individual sets up an account with E-tread and is given a password, the fee for any transaction in the sales area is $1.50.
The auction site is designed for sales of larger items, such as equipment, but items of any size may be sold there. Transaction fees in the auction area are based on a percentage of the purchase price.
"I used to mess around with faxes," Mr. Waggoner said, "but now the business (retreading) is almost totally going to e-commerce."
Mr. Flake said E-tread is a "virtual company"—it has no offices or employees, so the fees are low and overhead is almost non-existent. "There's a place for this kind of site," said Mr. Waggoner, who envisions E-tread as a clearing house for all retreading needs.
In fact, Mr. Waggoner is the auction site's first customer. He has posted Marangoni equipment worth more than $1 million that he originally sold to the U.S. Army and later bought back.
Mr. Waggoner said E-tread plans to advertise in ITRA's Retreader's Journal and "then we'll see what happens." Both men also are negotiating a deal in Italy to extend E-tread into the European market.