TUCSON—Bridgestone/Firestone Off Road Tire Co. wants to rev up sales and production at its off-the-road retread and repair plant in Conyers Ga. But first it must resolve a few issues.
Many people think the plant is owned by someone else, said Pete Bogatinoff, BFOR's general manager of retread operations since Jan. 4.
The unit also has experienced some product quality problems, he said.
Toss in that BFOR deems the plant critical to the success of its OTR tire business and you find a unit in need of urgent care.
Mr. Bogatinoff plans to fix all that.
"I know what's wrong with it, what has to be fixed, and I'm going about doing it," he said Feb. 18 during the Tire Association of North America's OTR conference in Tucson.
The plant, which wholesales to independent tire dealerships and supplies the company's own stores within a 600-mile radius of Atlanta, has an identity problem, Mr. Bogatinoff said.
"People aren't aware that OTR retreading even exists (at the company)," he explained.
Many people think the Conyers plant is still run by its previous owner, Fletcher's Cobre Tire Inc., a large independent tire dealership based in Phoenix, he said.
But Fletcher's sold its OTR and commercial business, which included 33 commercial and OTR outlets and several truck tire retread plants, to BFS in 1998.
Other people, he said, think the Conyers operation still is run by Edwards Warren Tire Co., which sold the unit to Cobre in 1996. At one time, Edwards Warren ranked as the third-largest OTR retreader in the country.
Despite the plant's identity crisis, it remains crucial to BFS' OTR business. The company wants to manage the entire life of the tire from its manufacture to its disposal, said Manny Cicero, president of BFOR.
His goal is to provide a service to OTR dealers—not just a tire.
Eventually, he sees the plant extending its reach beyond the southeast to customers nationally.
To help get the OTR retread plant on track, Mr. Bogatinoff said the company plans to rename the unit.
Why? "Because we do business directly with dealers," he said. "Those people that think we're still Cobre Tire think we're competing with them."
Along with a new name, Mr. Bogatinoff intends to improve the quality of the products produced at the OTR retread plant.
The company is spending nearly $500,000 to install a new automatic buffer and builder that will provide a truer buff and build and give "real tight tolerances on radials," he said.
BFS also has added new equipment dedicated to improving section repairs and will expand that production to 24 hours a day.
"In this business, if you do a high-quality section repair and provide a good turnaround time, it makes it a lot easier to get the retread business—and that's our goal," Mr. Bogatinoff said.
The company also is retraining employees and adding new services such as bead-to-bead retreads.
Mr. Bogatinoff, who previously set up BFS' Oncor truck tire retread shop in St. Louis, said the OTR plant currently is consuming about 40,000 pounds of tread rubber weekly or about 2.08 million pounds a year.
By year-end, he hopes to double that amount to 80,000 pounds a week.
Since coming on board in January, Mr. Bogatinoff said it's been unbelieveable how much work already has been done.
"I want people to know we're fixing this and fixing it fast," he said.