SHANGHAI, China (March 23, 2000)—Tech International has broken ground for a Chinese manufacturing site and will begin producing tire repair materials there within a year.
"We´re going to be the first really bona fide tire repair manufacturer in China," said Joseph H. Casey Jr., vice president of international sales and marketing.
Currently, tires are repaired in China through traditional means, using old rubber from a tire or tube and bonding the patch with heat.
"We´ll take the more advanced tire repair technology to China," Mr. Casey said. That is, better materials and cold repair vulcanization for passenger, truck, bus and tractor tires.
Within 12 months, Tech plans to begin initial production of products like vulcanizing cement, chemical solvent and tube repairs for bicycles, motorcycles and scooters at a new plant in Shanghai. The site primarily will supply China but export about 25 percent of its materials to Southeast Asia.
"We´re making a significant investment in equipment, training of people and the actual building itself," Mr. Casey said. He did not release dollar amounts.
Tech International spent the last two years looking in industrial parks in Shanghai for a suitable location to set up its Asian manufacturing operation. The tire and tube repair manufacturer finally settled on a five-year-old park about 40 miles outside of Shanghai in the Song Jiang Industrial Zone.
Tech is clearing and leveling the land now so that construction of a 20,000-sq.-ft. multi-purpose facility can be built and finished by September. The building will house light manufacturing operations for assembly of tire repair materials, a display area and a training center.
The training center will work with Tech´s Chinese distribution network, made up of four training and distribution outlets in Wuhan, Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai.
The Johnstown, Ohio-based company has exported both bias-ply and radial tire repair materials to China since 1990. It established a wholly owned subsidiary, Tech Rubber China Ltd., in 1995 to oversee services, training, sales and distribution of tire repair materials in the country.
Tech already is the top global producer of tire repair materials following its September 1998 acquisition of TruFlex/Pang Rubber Co. and February 1998 purchase of Aromet Group Ltd. in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
"Those two acquisitions and our solid manufacturing in the U.S. with 11 sites around the world made us No. 1," Mr. Casey said.
The manufacturer isn´t complacent, however. "You want to be No. 1 in the world, be No. 1 in China," Mr. Casey quoted an associate as saying. "We take that to heart."
China´s pace of growth is rapid enough to justify Tech´s presence. Two million new vehicles are registered in Beijing each year, according to Mr. Casey. The market is ripe for tire repair manufacturers for a couple of reasons, first of which is safety, he said. There should be no question of leakage or fall out, but there is with the current methods of tire repair in the country, he said.
Conservation is the second issue. There are numerous dump sites and old tire piles in China and "equipment that´s out of service because of poor repair," Mr. Casey said. More than 30 percent of scrap tires could be put back into use, he estimated.
"If they were repaired properly in the first place, they would still be in service," he said. ©