NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The market for retreaded passenger tires may have all but dried up in the U.S., but a single Spanish company will produce about a million of them this year, nearly as many as will be produced by all U.S. retreaders, according to International Tire and Rubber Association estimates. At Industrias Del Neum tico S.A. (INSA) in Aspe, Spain, about 120 employees in the retread plant also produce between 200 and 300 truck and farm tractor tires each day. The retreading facility is part of a 2 million-sq.-ft. company complex that includes warehouses and offices.
INSA operates 90 company-owned stores and 210 franchise locations in Spain and exports tires to Europe and Latin America—but not to the U.S.
The firm puts a lot of emphasis on the product's appearance, as witnessed by its seven consecutive first prizes and four "Best of Show" awards in American Retreaders Association and ITRA retread appearance contests since 1994. At this year's World ITRA Expo, INSA won "Best of Show" honors for its entry in the "bead-to-bead mold cure light truck highway all-weather" classification.
"Our retread tires have to have the performance and quality of new tires," said Salvador Perez Vazquez, INSA's production director.
INSA was founded about 20 years ago and mixes its own rubber compounds. The company uses Michelin molds for about 90 percent of its mold-cure passenger tire output, he said, and buys casings all over the world, including the U.S., Japan, France and Germany.
INSA rejects more than half the passenger tire casings it acquires. "Our quality control is very tough," Mr. Vazquez said. Rejected carcasses are ground up and sold for a variety of uses.
Retread passenger tires still are popular in Spain and Latin America because of the price, which averages about 60 percent of new-tire prices, Mr. Vazquez said.
INSA uses Goodyear Unicircle and UniWing precure tread rubber for its truck tire retreads.
European Market countries have certified INSA's INSA-Turbo retreads as "like new," Mr. Vazquez said. Its plant also has received a U.S. Department of Transportation code number.
When it comes to quality, "we go by the look," Mr. Vazquez said. The companywide emphasis on appearance also is shown by INSA's clean plant, he said, and its high-quality catalogs.
The other "Best of Show" winners were:
McGriff Treading Co., Hartselle, Ala.: "Mold Cure Truck Highway";
Hi-Mile Tire, Billings, Mont.: "Precure Truck Traction;"
Recauchutados Mesas S.A., Albacete, Spain: "Bead-to-bead Mold Cure Truck Highway."