Tough economic times globally have spurred supply shortages for some used tire dealers and casings distributors, exhibitors at the World Tire Expo told Tire Business.
Ira Feitelson, owner of Elite Tire International Inc. in Allentown, Pa., a used tire exporter, said his shipments of used tires to Third World countries have dropped as more commercial fleets run their tires longer to cut costs.
His business has dropped from an average of about seven to nine containers a month to three to four containers. Each container represents about 300 tires, he said.
Elite Tire gets its tires primarily from U.S. companies then sells them either domestically or internationally.
He said many larger retreaders have not been affected by this supply crunch because by the time he gets the tires, the tread is nearly gone while the casing is still suitable for retreading.
``For the used tire business, there's not enough tread left for export,'' he said, adding that demand remains healthy.
Robinson W. Smith, president of R.W. Smith Import/Export Inc. in Harrisburg, Pa., also has seen his business decline from current economic conditions.
The company, which imports casings for distribution to U.S. retreaders, has seen scarcity in certain truck tire sizes, especially 11R22.5, as the intermodal business stalls.
That industry is therefore buying fewer tires and offering fewer for retreading.
Mr. Smith said he had been shipping about six to 10 containers a month to intermodal customers in 2001, but last year sent only about eight total for the year to those customers.
``Our business has dropped dramatically,'' he said.
While both Mr. Smith and Mr. Feitelson are optimistic that supplies eventually will return to normal once economies settle, Mr. Smith decided not to take any chances.
For that reason, he has expanded his business into other avenues to make up for the loss.
Supplying casings had accounted for 100 percent of his business, but Mr. Smith recently added scrap tire pickup in Pennsylvania as well as a small trucking company that leases tractors to larger trucking firms.
``Those are not bad,'' he said.