MURFREESBORO, Tenn.-The folks at Jennings Tire Co. wanted to make some changes in their retreading operation.
The tire maker's financial might, coupled with its ability to keep up with advances in new tire and retreading technology and Jennings Tire's existing relationship with Goodyear, led the two to join forces in a switch from Bandag Inc.'s retreading process to that of Goodyear's Next-Tred. From there, Goodyear's newest independent retread plant was born.
The existing 65,000-sq.-ft. facility, located on roughly seven acres in Murfreesboro, a short drive from Nashville, also features a 30,000-sq.-ft. warehouse, six commercial service bays and a small retail outlet.
It also houses the state-of-the-art retread facility capable of pumping out 150 tires a day. That's a 50-percent increase over the facility's output when it was a Bandag operation.
``It's something (switching retreading systems) we had thought about for a long time,'' said Scott Cobb, vice president of Jennings Tire, which does business as American Tire Co. As the company looked at where it was going retreading-wise-and the technological advancements in the trucking industry-it decided Goodyear was its retread technology of choice.
``We had a good relationship with Goodyear on the new-tire side and decided it was time to make a change on the retreads,'' he said
Mr. Cobb said much of the Bandag equipment was sold through an equipment broker, with most of it ending up at an outfit in South America.
Upgrading its aging equipment was a key reason why Jennings Tire wanted to make the switch. The company added what Mr. Cobb called a state-of-the-art Unicircle tread builder, which employs a laser positioning system for precision tread placement. That process also features GTRACS, Goodyear's automated retread tracking system, which follows tires through the retreading process, from dismount to remount.
``They've got the premium products that nobody else has,'' Mr. Cobb said.
Jennings, on the other hand, had what many dealership's don't have including available space. It had plenty of room in the Murfreesboro facility to house the retreading equipment and inventory the products.
It also had the financial ability to make the change.
John Polhemus, president of Goodyear's North American Tire operations, who visited the plant during an open house in November, said the latter might be the most important consideration when it comes to creating or switching to such a deluxe facility. He believes that, based on the Jennings site, it was a worthwhile investment.
``The dealer that has the capital to invest in a facility like this-the draw of the customers, just to be able to get them in here and show what you're capable of offering-it's just first-class all the way,'' he said. ``I think that would have a big impression on any customer or any dealer that would see it.''
It was a similar impression left by Goodyear that led Jennings Tire to becoming a Truckwise Tire Center. Mr. Cobb pointed to Goodyear's ability to invest in the development of new tire tread and compound technologies.
``Some of the other manufacturers don't have (new-tire technology), as our previous one didn't,'' Mr. Cobb said.
Far from being just a retreader, Jennings Tire is also a full-service commercial truck tire dealership. operating four Truckwise outlets among the dealership's 15 retail stores, all in the Middle Tennessee area. The company's Murfreesboro site has an attached warehouse with capacity for some 16,000 passenger and light truck and 6,000 medium truck tires.
Also on site is a small retail outlet that Mr. Cobb said accounts for about 20 percent of the outlet's revenues.
With its location in an industrial park, the outlet is well-positioned to service the 1,000 cars within a mile's drive of the shop during the business day, Mr. Cobb said.
``Whether it's the president of a trucking company's company car or his wife's car or kid's car, they can bring it here, deal with the same people and get everything done,'' he said. ``It's one-stop shopping.''
Jennings Tire has about 140 employees at its 15 locations. The Murfrees-boro outlet, employs 13 people in the retread shop and three in the warehouse. Six people work in the service department, including five fleet mechanics. Two others handle counter sales, while 10 perform outside sales.
The retread facility has been in production for only a few months and Mr. Cobb said the results have been obvious. The employees are proud of the plant, he said, and a number of customers have had ``jaw-dropping experiences'' upon seeing the facility and what it can do.
Even Mr. Polhemus, who has seen more than a few tire centers and retread operations around the country, is enthusiastic about Jennings Tire's refurbished location.
``We have many truck tire centers, but this was designed from the bottom up and it's the way we wanted it and the way Jennings Tire wanted it,'' he said.
``It's a really nice set-up. I've seen lot of nice truck tire centers, but this is No. 1. It's set up to expand. It would be very easy to expand the retreading facilty, It's got everything going for it. It's going to be a great success.''