NASHVILLE, Tenn.-International Tire & Rubber Association Technical Director Bill Gragg left the association at the end of April to open a new consulting service for retreaders and retreading industry suppliers.
The move followed the ITRA's decision to eliminate the technical director's position and, in a related cost-cutting move, to close its testing laboratory.
Marvin Bozarth, ITRA executive director, said demand for retread and repair training classes, which Mr. Gragg taught, had declined in recent years. As for the lab, the cost of calibrating and certifying the group's lab equipment exceeded income from testing, which is why it was shut down.
He also cited the recent downturn in the economy and the smaller size of the ITRA's annual trade show as impacting the association's financial picture.
Mr. Gragg, who had served as ITRA technical director for seven years, is calling his new consulting business Retreading Solutions Inc., based in Mt. Washington, Ky. Through it, he will offer consulting service to retreaders and retread materials and equipment suppliers, with a particular focus on Latin American companies. Having grown up in Miami, Mr. Gragg said he is fluent in Spanish and also has had experience working in Latin America.
``This is something I've wanted to do for a long time-to work for myself and to see if I can survive in a business that's competitive right now,'' Mr. Gragg said. He already has lined up Brazil-based Vipal Rubber Corp. as a client and sees lots of opportunities in both North and South America.
Prior to joining ITRA, Mr. Gragg spent eight years at Goodyear where he served as sales and marketing manager for retreading systems in Latin America.
In addition, Mr. Gragg will continue to work with Louisville-based ITRA, serving the association in various projects on an as-needed basis, Mr. Bozarth said.