Demand for passenger tire retreads may be fading in most corners of North America, but don't tell it to Techno Pneu Inc.
Techno Pneu, owned and operated by the Marquis family for 45 years, is investing $1 million this year to set up a new plant that initially will triple the company's capacity for passenger, 4x4 and light truck retreads to nearly 900 units a day, said Jean-Francois Marquis, who oversees the firm's Moldex passenger retreading business.
The company's goal is make the best retread tire in the world, said Marcel Marquis, president and Jean-Francois' father. All of Techno Pneu's passenger and light truck retreads are bead-to-bead designs, and the company will strive for zero tolerance limits in the new plant, Marcel Marquis said. Up to now, he explained, the firm's retreads were built to tolerances up to 1 ounce.
At 45,000 square feet, the new plant will be about double the size of the existing facility, which will be converted to warehousing, Jean-Francois Marquis said. Production at the new plant is scheduled to start in June.
Among the equipment on order for the plant are 10 Cima Impianti S.p.A. curing presses to complement 10 existing presses that also will be moved to the new facility, Jean-Francois Marquis said, along with buffers from Cisap S.p.A. The new plant will have room for an additional 10 presses for future growth, he said.
The firm also is evaluating adding shearography to its casing inspection department, Jean-Francois Marquis said. Techno Pneu gets most of its casings from the Quebec government, which collects them as part of a government tire recycling initiative, Marcel Marquis said.
Techno Pneu bases its optimism on contracts in hand-especially for supplying major cab companies in New York, New Jersey and Quebec-and potential new business the firm is courting at the moment, Marcel Marquis said. Business with the New York cab companies dropped off measurably after the tragedy of 9/11, he said, but the company is confident it will re-establish business there after the new plant is on stream.
The company also has a growing export business unit-Moldex, which is derived from Molding and Exportation-to customers throughout the Caribbean and other destinations.
The expanded production also will allow Techno Pneu to broaden its product offerings, up to 245/70/19.5 light truck and up to 17-inch passenger sizes, he said.
Nonetheless, nearly two-thirds of the passenger tire retreading is in winter traction tread designs, he said. The company recently added the Green Diamond winter tire traction compound to its product range, offering it as a premium option on all of its tread patterns.
Green Diamond is the trademark given to technology developed by New Industries Ltd. of Reykjavik, Iceland, to add silicium carbide/aluminum oxide granules to the tread compound. As a tire wears, these granules are exposed, providing traction without damaging the road surface. Green Diamond tires have a measured road wear of approximately 14 times less than studded tires, causing 93 percent less road wear overall, according to the company's Web site.
Techno Pneu is affiliated on the new tire side with Unipneu, a Quebec marketing cooperative organized by Unimax Tire Ltd. The company also operates a Goodyear Next-Tred truck tire retreading plant in Rimouski. The company generated sales last year of approximately $10 million with 65 employees.