Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.'s Oliver Rubber Co. subsidiary has been awarded a 10-year contract to retread all the U.S. Postal Service's tires nationwide.
Oliver will fulfill the contract via its approximately 150-160 independent dealers across the U.S., using both its mold-cure and precure technologies, according to Phil Boarts, Oliver director of sales and marketing for retread products. Mr. Boarts said there was no exact dollar amount attached to the contract at this time, but Postal Service officials in the past have said the service buys about 100,000 retreads a year.
``The Postal Service at this time uses retreads on only about 20 percent of its fleet, and it wants to increase that to 70 percent,'' he said. The USPS operates more than 200,000 ground vehicles, most of which run on 14- or 15-inch tires.
``We have no company-owned dealer (outlets), so we have to rely on our independent dealers to perform the work required by the contract,'' Mr. Boarts told Tire Business. There are about 100 Oliver Elite retreaders in the U.S.-which he described as those retreaders ``that have demonstrated their commitment to the Oliver precure product''-and another 50 or 60 that handle Oliver's mold-cure strip rubber.
``The Postal Service would like to continue retreading its 14- and 15-inch tires with the mold-cure process,'' Mr. Boarts said, adding that a large portion of its fleet uses tires in those sizes. But other sizes of tires probably will be retreaded using precure.
While retread industry representatives still are concerned a single national contract may hurt local and regional retreaders not affiliated with the contract winner, they said they are convinced of the USPS officials' professionalism and good will.
``They say their goal is to increase their retread use substantially, and all I can say is, `God bless them,''' said Becky MacDicken, government affairs director for the Tire Industry Association (TIA).
``I wish that every government official I met was as dedicated as these guys,'' added Harvey Brodsky, managing director of the Tire Retread Information Bureau (TRIB).
The USPS, Mr. Brodsky noted, has asked the help of TRIB and TIA in promoting the use of retreads among its 191 vehicle maintenance facilities. Oliver, Mr. Boarts added, is counting on TRIB's and TIA's aid with the contract, in training activities and other areas.
Goodyear has the exclusive contract for new tires for the Postal Service's ground vehicles through 2011, according to terms of an agreement signed in 2001. The USPS buys about 235,000 new tires each year, according to information disclosed in 2001, along with more than 100,000 retreaded tires. More than two-thirds of the retreads bought were in 14- and 15-inch sizes, according to Marvin Bozarth, TIA senior technical consultant.
In the past, Goodyear was responsible for the bulk of the retreaded tires on postal vehicles, a Postal Service spokesman said then.
However, in light of the Oliver announcement, a Goodyear spokesman said the company has never had a nationwide contract with the USPS for retreading or retread supplies, although its new tire contract is now in its third year.
``Before this, the USPS always contracted locally or regionally for retreads,'' he said. ``I'm sure we had some of that business, but I can't pinpoint or quantify that further.''
Among prominent retreaders affiliated with Oliver are: GCR Truck Tire Centers (Bridgestone/Firestone) in Austin, Texas; Les Schwab Tire Centers Inc. in Prineville, Ore.; Pacific Coast Retreaders Inc. in Oakland, Calif.; New Holland Tire Co. Inc. in Terre Hill, Pa.; Bergey's Tire in Franconia, Pa.; PGT Retreading in Phildelphia; and Raben Tire Co. in Evansville, Ind.