With manufacturing capacity tight for medium truck tires and another strong sales year forecast in 2005, Goodyear plans to increase supply of these tires through improved productivity at its Danville, Va., Topeka, Kan., and Buffalo, N.Y., tire plants and an expansion at the Buffalo factory.
Speaking at the 2005 Goodyear dealer meeting Jan. 31 in Grapevine, Steve McClellan, vice president of commercial tire systems, said all three plants already are realizing productivity gains as a result of initiatives to cut inefficiencies and streamline processes.
In addition, Goodyear will add capacity at the Goodyear-Dunlop plant in Buffalo during the second quarter. The company would not be more specific regarding the productivity increases.
In 2004, Goodyear literally was in the position of having a buyer for every truck tire it could make, Mr. McClellan said.
To increase supply further, Mr. McClellan said Goodyear also will source Steelmark-brand truck tires from the company's off-shore facilities. This will open up additional capacity to produce Goodyear, Dunlop and Kelly brand truck tires domestically, he said.
Earlier this year, Goodyear said it was evaluating the possibility of having the Steelmark radial truck tire line made in China, most likely by Triangle Tire Co. Ltd., at its plant in Qingdao. Steelmark is Goodyear's lower-priced truck tire line, below the Goodyear, Dunlop and Kelly flag brands, according to company literature.
Along with these moves, Mr. McClellan said Goodyear is seeking to boost supply to the company's replacement tire customers, by ``basing OE sales on those strategic accounts that provide our dealers with the best opportunity to sell replacement tires.''
In his speech, Mr. McClellan announced several new tires and size expansions to the Goodyear family of truck tires.
Goodyear will introduce a new regional drive tire, the Unisteel G182 RSD, in the second quarter of this year in five sizes: 11R22.5 and 11R24.5 in load ranges G and H and 285/75R24.5 G.
``The G182 will deliver all of the wear improvements and quiet ride that your customers are demanding,'' he said.
Dealers also have a new premium Kelly line haul steer tire, the Kelly Armorsteel KLHA, which ``puts new life into the Kelly brand,'' Mr. McClellan said. Already available, the KLHA offers improved mileage, handling, traction and rolling resistance over the tire it replaces, the Kelly Armorsteel KLHS. Goodyear is offering the KLHA in four sizes-11R22.5 G, 11R24.5 G, 295/75R22.5 G and 285/75R24.5 G.
The tire maker also is expanding applications for its Unisteel G149 RSA regional steer tire for use in urban areas. Three new sizes will be available starting in the second quarter-LT235/85R 16 E, F, LT245/ 75R16 E, F and 245/70R19.5 G. The company will add size 225/70R19.5 G in the third quarter.
Dealers also learned about the company's DuraSeal commercial sealant technology, which will be offered in two new UniSteel truck tires-the G287 MSA and G288 MSA. For now, the DuraSeal technology will be installed in only one size (315/80R22.5) of the G287 MSA and a more severe-duty version of the tire, the HSS, with availability starting in mid-March, a company spokesman said.
Additional sizes of both tires are available without DuraSeal.
Al Chicago, senior vice president of Purcell Tire & Rubber Co. based in Phoenix, was pleased with the new UniSteel tires with DuraSeal. ``The concept looks great,'' he said.
Even though DuraSeal-filled tires might cost 20-percent more than non-filled versions, he doesn't see that as a deterrent for companies such as garbage haulers where flat tires are common.
``Also, you don't have to do anything different to repair or retread them from ones that don't have DuraSeal,'' Mr. Chicago said. ``I think it's going to be a great new product.''
Mr. McClellan said Goodyear had completed the first phase of its new commercial sales training in December with 275 tire dealers and Goodyear sales associates participating. The training provides information on new products and sales tools.
By mid-March, Goodyear expects to have 900 people trained.