SPRINGBORO, Ohio—Duro Tire & Wheel Inc./Hwa Fong Rubber (USA) Inc. is expanding into wheel manufacturing.
The North American unit of Taiwanese tire maker Hwa Fong Rubber Industry Co. Ltd. broke ground last October on a 102,000-sq-ft. multi-use facility in Covington, Ga., that will serve as a manufacturing plant for Duro-brand wheels, a warehouse and an assembly unit for mounting tires and wheels.
Duro/Hwa Fong, a maker of industrial and specialty tires since 1945, expects to begin producing its own wheels in the facility beginning the first week of September.
"We knew there was going to be a battle (for the wheel, tire and assembly business) and the battle is raging," said Bryan Austin, Duro's sales and marketing manager, explaining the company's move into wheel manufacturing.
That business became even more competitive following Carlisle Companies Inc.'s April acquisition of Titan International Inc.'s original equipment consumer tire and wheel business, Mr. Austin said.
"With Carlisle purchasing the low end of Titan's wheel and tire business, Carlisle virtually has a monopoly on that market," he said.
In the transaction, Carlisle purchased Titan's Clinton, Tenn., ATV and lawn and garden tire plant, and its Slinger Wis., wheel factory. In addition, Carlisle secured a lease on Titan's Greenwood, S.C., factory, which produces wheels for ATV and lawn and garden tires.
Titan had supplied wheels to Duro, but the Carlisle deal eliminated that source, since Carlisle is a major competitor of Duro's in the specialty tire arena, Mr. Austin said.
While several other companies make the smaller-sized wheels Duro needs for its tires, they don't have much volume, he added.
"Rather than rely on others, the whims of the market and price, we decided to go into the wheel business," he said.
In its new plant, Duro will make wheels in 4- to 10-inch diameters for trailers, golf carts, lawn and garden vehicles and some ATVs.
The company will continue to source larger-size wheels, those 12 inches and greater, from off-shore suppliers.
Duro also will produce tire-and-wheel assemblies at the Covington facility and will offer wheels separately to interested customers, Mr. Austin said.
The plant will have a production capacity of about 8,000 wheels per day in different sizes.
Mr. Austin said the addition of wheel manufacturing capacity should make Duro "a lot more competitive in the marketplace" and position the company as an alternative source of supply for specialty tires and wheels.
"There's a vacuum in the market, and that's a market we intend to fill," he said.
In addition to the Covington operation, Duro also maintains a 60,000-sq.-ft. warehouse in Springboro, where it also mounts tire and wheel assemblies.