MUSCATINE, Iowa—Bandag Inc. is introducing new support programs for its franchisees this year and rolling out its largest retread technology launch in 20 years. In a prepared statement, Bandag Chairman Martin Carver touted the new technology as the "most sophisticated production equipment ever introduced" and stressed its potential to bring the company record equipment sales.
The new equipment includes an extruder, a builder and a shearography-based casing inspection machine, called the 7400 Insight Casing Analyzer, which the company said is designed to allow its franchisees to examine every casing.
"While all the noise about the churning in the distribution channel was attracting a lot of attention, Bandag was steadily building a stronger, more focused dealer network," Mr. Carver said.
"Today, the (Bandag) Alliance is streamlined, solidified and highly capable of providing trucking fleets with the best possible programs, information, products and tire-related services available."
Bandag's roster of franchisees in North America shrunk by more than 90 in the past year, to 447. Its traditional business of providing tread rubber and equipment to franchisees in North America slipped last year by 10 percent to about $375 million.
Bandag announced the new programs and equipment during its annual dealer conference, Feb. 4-7 in San Francisco, which was attended by roughly 70 percent of Bandag's North American franchisees, a spokesman said.
The company said 40 percent of the dealers in attendance indicated an intention to buy at least one of the three new machines debuted at the conference: the Model 5400 OSM (Optimum Splice Match) Tire Builder; the Model 6400 Extruder; and the Insight Casing Analyzer.
The casing analyzer features a pre-buff casing inspection, a bead-to-bead scan in less than three minutes, and animated video display and instant display playback, Bandag said.
The Insight machine is designed to analyze every medium truck tire in a shop, can store information from the previous scan, and has a roll on/off tire lift table and calibration confirmation.
The Model 5400 OSM Tire Builder features tread-length splice-matching, semi-automatic cushion application, lower material content and high production capabilities. Bandag called the 5400 an "ideal builder" for the cementless process.
The third piece of equipment, the Model 6400 Extruder, is a variable-speed extruder with a variable tire-drive speed. It also features integrated temperature control and ergonomic height and width design.
Bandag said the 6400 can deliver consistent cushion thickness while filling all normal skives, and eliminates the need for multiple sizes of cushion.
Both the 7400 Insight and the Model 5400 OSM are manufactured by Bandag, while the Model 6400 Extruder is produced by an outside supplier, the spokesman said.
The tread rubber maker and retread equipment systems supplier plans to strengthen its distribution network by establishing a College of Sales training program in Muscatine for commercial fleet sales, the spokesman said.
The College of Sales will offer two courses, one of which is Professional Fleet Selling, a foundational course to teach a salesperson new to the industry how to sell to trucking fleets, the spokesman said. Experienced sales representatives also can take the course to brush up on the basics of selling, he said.
The second course, Strategic Account Management, is an advanced course that teaches experienced salespeople selling tactics that will help gain greater market share for their dealerships.
Both programs will be offered as week-long classes throughout the year to Bandag franchisees only.
Bandag currently is testing another program for launch later this year—the Alliance Excellence Program, which is designed to help franchisees see how their businesses compare with others on an anonymous basis.
The program allows franchisees to measure their business performance and operations in four key areas: business planning, operations management, financial performance and business results, said Gary Schulte, marketing manager for dealer programs, services and information.
Mr. Schulte said dealers will measure those areas based on criteria established by the Bandag franchise model, which sets the benchmarks. The program comprises two parts: a management practices section, which describes to the franchisee what is being measured; and a scoring guide that defines the levels of expertise.
Bandag plans to recognize annually the dealerships that score in the top 10 to 15 percent as "world class alliance dealers," Mr. Schulte said.