A year after SURE Tire Co. launched the Concept Essenza tire/wheel package for the tuner market, Los Angeles-based Fairmount Tire and Rubber Inc. is introducing a tire/wheel package for the light truck tire market.
For the past 45 days, Fairmount Tire, a member of the SURE Tire buying group, has been rolling out the Concept Brute tire-and-wheel program. Fairmount Tire has been spearheading the marketing of the program, which couples new Brute wheels with the Remington Brute tire lines.
``We're going to piggyback on the Remington Wide Brute and Mud Brute tires with the brand new line of Brute wheels,'' said Brad Saunders, product committee chairman for SURE Tire and vice president of Fairmount Tire.
Unlike the Essenza rollout, which SURE Tire made available to the market, Fairmount Tire is bringing Brute Wheels to market for the Remington Brute tire lines, according to Mr. Saunders. The products will be available to all 30 of SURE Tire's members. Fairmount Tire is SURE Tire's largest member by sales.
SURE Tire (Summit Universal Cooperative Remington Enterprises Inc.) had announced in early summer several new tires for various market segments, one of which was the new generation Remington Wide Brute RV for on- and off-road use. The one-piece polished aluminum Brute wheels-which not only will fit the new Wide Brute RV but also the original Wide Brute, Wide Brute AW and Mud Brute tires-officially will debut at Fairmount Tire's booth at the upcoming Specialty Equipment Market Association/International Tire Expo trade show Nov. 4-7 in Las Vegas. SURE Tire has one domestic and one off-shore source for the wheels.
``It's really going to be a fun rollout,'' said Pat McLaughlin, executive director of St. Peters, Mo.-based SURE Tire. ``I'm sure we'll get a lot of positive feedback from tire dealers and members who get to see it put together in a package form.''
Fairmount Tire is assembling the marketing and fitment materials, databooks, counter cards and advertising for the Concept Brute tire/wheel package, Mr. Saunders said. A Web site, www.conceptbrute.com, also is in the works. Once the whole line is launched, Fairmount Tire plans to advertise the concept nationwide. It will focus on men who drive light trucks, want off-road tires and the look of high-end wheels but without the cost of high-end wheels, he explained.
A set of four tires and wheels will retail for $999 for 15-inch rim diameters; $1,199 for 16-inch; and $1,299 for 17-inch sizes, according to Mr. Saunders. Fairmount and SURE Tire hope to have tires in 18- and 19-inch sizes available in early 2004 and a 20-inch size by the end of 2004/start of 2005, he added.
``We're going to hit the lower end of the market than the traditional name brand tires,'' Mr. Saunders said.
The next generation Wide Brute RV all-terrain tire comes with a ``traction bridge'' that provides increased stability and bite in the shoulder blocks, according to product literature. It has rugged, curved tread blocks for on/off road cornering and steering response; an oversized, interlocking center rib for enhanced contact and grip; and a high-tech tread compound that delivers all-condition traction without sacrificing mileage.
The Wide Brute RV is available in 30 P-metric and LT sizes. The Wide Brute AW (an all-weather, highway tire) is available in 33 P-metric and LT sizes, while the Wide Brute and Mud Brute come in five and 19 LT sizes, respectively, according to Mr. Saunders.
Like the Essenza program, Fairmount Tire sees huge opportunities in selling light truck tires and wheels together, he added.
``The consumers we deal with see an advantage to (a tire/wheel package) especially because when you put together the same tires and wheel, they want to replace it with that same tire, so we get the return sale,'' he explained, noting that dealers then have a locked-in sale.
Mr. McLaughlin agreed and said he expects light truck tire market sales to be strong in 2004, especially because the free replacement tires related to the Firestone recall of 2000 should be ready for replacement. And he noted that sales of the Essenza tire/wheel package far exceeded SURE Tire's initial predictions, which he thinks can be repeated by the Concept Brute program. However, he declined to disclose Essenza's sales.
``I think the (Brute) program is going to be every bit as successful as the Essenza program was,'' Mr. McLaughlin said. ``We're looking for big things. It's an exciting venue. There's a lot of growth potential there. We see high profit potential with the growth.''
SURE Tire, which Mr. McLaughlin said would help market the Concept Brute program in the future, helped develop product literature and worked closely with Goodyear to develop the Wide Brute RV's design.
In fact, Fairmount Tire had to wait a year before getting the Brute tire/wheel package to market because the Wide Brute RV underwent additional testing to fine tune its ride quality, said Mr. McLaughlin, noting that all-terrain tires have a history of developing irregular wear during mid-life. He said he's confident the testing process has created a tire with regular uniformity, good ride quality and safe handling for on- and off-road uses.
``The problem that you run into today with the tuning of SUVs and pickup trucks is that they're made really to ride like automobiles rather than the traditional pickup trucks of 10 to 15 years ago,'' Mr. McLaughlin told Tire Business. ``So we had to tune a tire that would give us and our dealers' customers the ride quality they're looking for.''