ST-PAUL d'ABBOTSFORD, Quebec—Michelin Retread Technologies (Canada) Inc. has begun its push for a piece of Canada's retreading market, as it plans to sign Robert Bernard TRM Limite as its first franchisee. Robert Bernard TRM, based in St-Paul d'Abbotsford, is a new company established by Jocelyn Bernard and his brother Gerard, both principals of Les Pneus Robert Bernard, a Michelin new-tire dealer and Bandag Inc. franchisee. The firm operates eight combination retail-commercial stores and two Bandag retread shops, both of which will close by Jan. 31.
The Bernards are constructing a 29,000-sq.-ft. retread shop, which they expect to be operational by Feb. 15, said Jocelyn Bernard, the firm's vice president.
The company's goal is to reach a capacity of 70,000 units per year, Mr. Bernard said. Its plant will be a hybrid shop—meaning it will use both Michelin's Pre-Mold precure and Custom-Mold mold-cure processes.
Although Robert Bernard TRM is a start-up business, Les Pneus Robert Bernard has been a Bandag retreader for the past 30 years, Mr. Bernard said. The company's Bandag shops are located in St. Paul-d'Abbotsford and Sherbrooke, Quebec.
Mr. Bernard said the company is switching to MRT(C)I because he and his brother were impressed by Michelin's retread technology and believe it will increase their business. The Bernards initiated talks with Michelin Canada concerning its retread franchise program.
"We had the chance to go to the United States and see one or two retread plants there and the new equipment," Mr. Bernard said. "The new stuff is really good, and Michelin's credibility is good, so we decided to change."
He declined to disclose how much the dealership is investing to convert to MRT(C)I.
Mr. Bernard's late father, Robert, founded Les Pneus Robert Bernard in 1950. The firm now has seven stores throughout Quebec besides the St-Paul d'Abbotsford location: in Granby, Boucherville, St-Jean, Chambly, St. Georges, Pam-pineauville and St-Come.
Les Pneus Robert Bernard sells truck, passenger, light truck, bus and farm tires.
The firm services trucking fleets, and five of its locations offer basic undercar service, including mufflers, brakes, shocks and wheel alignments.
The dealership offers Michelin, BFGoodrich, Uniroyal, Goodyear and Yokohama tires, with the three Michelin-owned brands constituting 45 to 50 percent of its sales. Mr. Bernard declined to disclose his company's annual sales.
MRT(C)I, the retreading affiliate of Michelin North America (Canada) Inc., announced the signing of a letter of intent between itself and Robert Bernard TRM Dec. 10. Its U.S. counterpart, Michelin Retread Technologies Inc., currently has 32 retreading franchises operational, as of Dec. 15.
MRTI had said in October that the company would expand its retreading business to Canada, with the overall goal of growing its North American retread market share to almost 25 percent by 2002. However, a Michelin spokeswoman declined to say whether MRT(C)I plans to sign any additional franchisees in Canada soon.
"At this point in time, there's no one else that we're ready to announce," she said.