HILTON HEAD, S.C.—The number of U.S. retread shops in the U.S. could decline by as many as 100 this year, according to Marvin Bozarth, executive director of the International Tire and Rubber Association. Fewer plants, however, does not necessarily mean a decline in production capability, Mr. Bozarth said.
In a speech at the Clemson Tire Conference in Hilton Head, Mr. Bozarth said the U.S. had 1,231 retread plants in 1999, but the total likely includes a number of idle plants that still have their equipment in place.
That, combined with industry consolidation—where a company acquires a competitor with two or three retread plants and then merges them into one larger facility—could drive the number of U.S. retread plants down by 75 to 100 locations, he said.
Mr. Bozarth said passenger tire retreading continues in the doldrums. The number of passenger tire retreads produced in 2000 might even fall below the 1 million units ITRA estimated earlier this year, he said.
This would continue the long decline of passenger retreading, which at one time topped 30 million retread units annually.
Mr. Bozarth estimated that fewer than 100 passenger retread plants remain in the U.S.
In 1999, the industry retreaded a total of 27 million tires, Mr. Bozarth said. Of these, about 1.9 million were passenger models; 6.1 million, light truck; 17.4 million, medium truck; and 485,000, earthmover.
The industry also retreaded 203,000 industrial and specialty tires and 260,000 aircraft tires. Nearly 80 percent of the tires used in the commercial airline industry are retreads, he noted.
Even with fewer retread shops, Mr. Bozarth said the remaining plants likely will be able to maintain or even increase production capacity.
"The remaining shops are higher quality and have the latest equipment," he said.