With hopes of lessening its reliance on servicing the struggling coal industry in West Virginia, Appalachian Tire Products Inc. is making moves to expand its reach westward into Tennessee and northward into Pennsylvania.
To support its more concerted sales efforts westward, Appalachian Tire is embarking on a multimillion-dollar expansion program that includes a new retread plant in Virginia and a commercial outlet in Tennessee. ``That (coal) industry is on a downslide, so we need to get into other commercial markets and not be so dependent on coal as our major customer,'' said Walter Dial, chairman of the Charleston-based commercial dealership and retreader.
Appalachian Tire is refurbishing its former retread plant in Norton, Va., to serve various commercial markets in Tennessee. Mr. Dial said the company's Norton and Charleston retread plants had operated in tandem since 1982. But when business slowed three years ago, production at the Norton site was phased out and consolidated at the Charleston plant.
With this latest project, the company plans to restart retreading at the Norton site, expanding the building and installing new equipment. Mr. Dial expects the 16,000-sq.-ft. facility to be producing about 150 retreads a day-about 21/2 times the plant's former capacity-by June. The plant will use Goodyear's Next-Tred retreading equipment and procedures.
In addition to the retread plant, Appa-lachian Tire is buying an 18,000-sq.-ft. building in Knoxville, Tenn., to serve as a commercial outlet. That location, sitting on two and a half acres of land, is slated to open for business by June as well.
``We will feed that location out of our Norton retread plant,'' Mr. Dial said.
The two facilities put the Goodyear dealership's total locations at 24, including 18 commercial centers.
Appalachian Tire also is looking at further expansions in Pennsylvania, he said. The company took over a former Wingfoot Commercial Tire Systems L.L.C. location there about a year ago.
``We're looking in that area for retail expansion,'' Mr. Dial said.