QUINCY, Ill. (Feb. 25, 2000) — Titan International Inc.´s 1999 financial report bears the effects of ongoing strikes at two of its tire plants and a 45-percent reduction in business in its biggest market during the early portion of last year.
The Quincy-based maker of tires and wheels for off-highway equipment posted a net loss of $11.4 million for 1999, as net sales tumbled 11 percent to $588 million.
In 1998, Titan earned $8.15 million on sales of $660.8 million.
Company President and CEO Maurice "Morry" Taylor Jr. has promised that this year will be a vast improvement.
"The agricultural market downturn has taken its toll on Titan in the past year, but we expect this to be a temporary situation," Mr. Taylor said. "Titan´s sales are rebounding as we enter 2000."
Titan´s Brownsville, Texas, tire plant increased production to a moderate level in January for the first time and will increase output as the year progresses.
About 200 employees are working there now, plus 24 retirees from Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. who are helping train people on equipment, Taylor said.
Titan stopped manufacturing at the 1 million-sq.-ft. facility in mid-July in order to install various types of equipment and ramp-up for all-terrain-vehicle tire production in January.
The company also will continue to produce lawn and garden tires less than 12 inches in diameter in Brownsville, as it had been doing throughout 1999.
After the three-year, phase-in project in Brownsville is done, the factory will generate $200 million to $250 million in tire sales, Mr. Taylor said, with the tire product range expanding as the plant does.
Titan also is counting on its agreements with construction equipment giant Caterpillar Inc. to increase Titan´s annual sales $200 million to $300 million within three years.
Titan recently began making tire and wheel assemblies for skid-steer loaders that will be marketed under the Caterpillar name and will begin making assemblies for Caterpillar backhoes during the first half of 2000, Mr. Taylor said.
Strikes by United Steelworkers of America locals at Titan´s Des Moines, Iowa, and Natchez, Miss., tire factories have hurt production, but manufacturing has continued with replacement workers.
For the fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31, Titan lost $5.97 million on a 6-percent drop in sales to $134.4 million.