Del-Nat Tire Corp.'s alliance with Superstone Tire Co. Ltd., set up two years ago to help Del-Nat increase its supply of private brand commercial tires, is working well enough that the firm wants Superstone to help it find suppliers of passenger and light truck tires as well.
Del-Nat already sources some light truck tire product from China, but the group faces challenges in finding the right pricing and volume its members need, according to Dick Erickson, Del-Nat's interim president.
``We have to ensure our pricing out of China is excellent as much to cover the logistics as anything else,'' Mr. Erickson said. ``The market changes over there. It seems to me that sometimes they have financing in place and at other times they have production opportunities for us, but they need some sort of capital.''
The partnership has helped Del-Nat increase its medium truck tire sales at a time when truck tire demand is exceeding supply, according to Aaron C. Murphy, Del-Nat vice president of commercial products. Superstone isn't the only Chinese company from which Del-Nat purchases tires, however, Mr. Murphy said, and the firm's strategy of relying on various off-shore and domestic suppliers has helped with supply issues.
``We've taken a several-pronged approach with utilizing a domestic manufacturer as well as several sources out of China that private brand our brand name Akuret,'' Mr. Murphy said. ``It's helped us overcome the peaks and valleys. I know our sales in the past two years have consistently grown in medium truck.''
Many of Del-Nat's house brands are sourced from China, including Delta, National and Akuret, and Del-Nat has exclusive sales and distribution rights to Superstone's Long March and Super Trailer ST brands, Mr. Murphy said. Old Bridge, N.J.-based Superstone is the agent for six Chinese tire companies.
He noted that Del-Nat also is dealing with other Asian tire makers and their North American agents, including Hankook Tire America Corp., Maxxis International, Nexen Tire Corp., Chinese Manufacturers Alliance L.L.C. and Alpha Tire Systems.
Chinese manufacturers are the largest providers of truck tires for Del-Nat, followed by domestic manufacturers, Mr. Murphy added. He said private brand marketers are pushing for more tires from off-shore manufacturers, and to combat U.S. production constraints Del-Nat may do the same by cultivating more relationships with Asian firms.
Mr. Murphy declined to give any truck tire unit sales or import unit figures. He did say Del-Nat's commercial tire business is growing, though it hasn't yet reached 50 percent of the marketer's overall business.
Mr. Erickson, owner of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Sun Tire Inc., is serving as president until a replacement is found for Dan Hunter, who left Del-Nat March 14.