Marangoni Tread North America Inc. has gained two converts to its RTS Ringtread retreading system, Brahler's Truckers Supply Inc. in Illinois and Tire Treads Inc. in Tennessee.
Ironically, both conversions are tied at least in part to disasters that befell the companies.
In Illinois, Brahler's Truckers Supply converted its ITR Inc. retreading business to the Marangoni system from the Michelin Retread Technologies Inc. process because the RTS program ``gives us more freedom and flexibility in our day-to-day business decisions,'' according to Richard Brahler, owner of both businesses.
Brahler's had opened an MRTI plant in 1999, converting at that time from being a Bandag Inc. franchisee. Mr. Brahler called MRTI a ``great process,'' but said he felt the franchise agreement did not allow him enough freedom to do business the way he wanted to.
Brahler's ITR Inc. unit bought a 40,000-sq.-ft. building from the city of Jacksonville, Ill., and started production there Feb. 14 shortly after the MRTI franchise agreement expired.
The plant, equipped with shear-ography inspection equipment, specially designed chambers and Mateuzzi tire testing stand, started at 180 units a day output, but it can be ramped up to 350 units in its current configuration, Mr. Brahler said.
The company is doubling the size of the ITR facility to accommodate distribution for Brahler's Trucking Supply, Mr. Brahler said.
At the same time, Brahler's is converting the existing MRTI plant in Jacksonville, Ill., to retreading truck, OTR, industrial and other specialty tires using Brahler's own precure process. The converted plant is scheduled to open by late March, Mr. Brahler said.
The new plant replaces one in Granite City, Ill., destroyed last October by a five-alarm fire that also claimed a warehouse and 8,500 tires. Insurance is covering the damages, Mr. Brahler said.
In Tennessee, Tire Treads' owner Jimmy Crews said converting his plant in Jackson to the RTS Ringtread process offered him the best chance to retain his customers ``for the long haul.''
Mother Nature also had a hand in Mr. Crews' decision.
Last spring an F5 tornado-the most severe type of twister-ripped through Jackson, tearing the roof off Tire Treads' retread plant and destroying a nearby 30,000-sq.-ft. warehouse.
``That put us at a crossroads,'' said Mike Crews, president of the family-owned business. ``Our old equipment was heavily damaged, and we decided if we were going to rebuild we would go hi-tech.''
After months of researching the subject, the Crewses opted for the Ringtread system to replace their mold cure capacity and installed an RTS production line at the repaired 14,000-sq.-ft. plant, Mr. Crews said. Trial production started in February alongside the firm's standard precure line.
The RTS plant is rated at 150 tires a day in a one-shift operation, Mr. Crews said, which is ``considerably larger than before.''
Tire Treads also built a warehouse to replace the one destroyed by the tornado. The dealership is 100-percent commercial, carrying primarily the Sumitomo line.