For Desser Tire & Rubber Co., a sideline market that four years ago was aimed at easing a dry spell has turned into a 10-percent and growing share of its business.
The company primarily retreads and distributes aviation tires for commercial aircraft. It markets the private label Aero Classic and retreads about 100 to 200 tires a day for the airline market.
After the airline industry took a major hit in the wake of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Desser Tire needed something else to fill the gaps. ``We just started looking at other stuff we could retread,'' said Steve Chlavin, president of the Montebello-based company.
Desser teamed up with a United Kingdom company to form Maxx Sport, a joint venture. The U.K. company had been retreading motorcycle tires, and a technology agreement helped Desser Tire get involved. Desser now retreads about 100 performance motorcycle tires a day, and those retreads are placing well in professional racing, Mr. Chlavin said.
The U.K. company in addition had been working on color motorcycle tires that come in six colors plus black, so Desser also learned that process.
The company also recently has branched out into ATV, motorcross and scooter tires. For those tires, the company has partnered with an offshore new-tire manufacturer that Mr. Chlavin declined to name. The offshore firm produces the tires, which also feature colors-as well as a camouflage ATV tire; the first container shipments are now arriving in the U.S. Mr. Chlavin hopes to expand distribution as well.
In the near future, he plans to add tires for Harley-Davidson motorcycles plus add sizes throughout the lines. ``It's growing everyday,'' he said of the business.
Still, color tires are a tricky business. ``It's an ever-improving process because it's not that easy to make them so they come out and stay the same color over time,'' he said.
The company stresses that the colors are not a coating or paint-they're colored rubber, so the tires don't change color as they wear. Mr. Chlavin also claimed the color tires last as long as regular tires and perform just as well.
But the color tires definitely are a question of taste among two very different customer bases: people who look for the cosmetics and people who look for only performance.
``People love them or hate them,'' he said. ``There's no middle.''
Desser has an online presence to create interest in the tires, but they're primarily sold through motorcycle dealers. Mr. Chlavin said he's open to signing on tire dealers to sell the tires, but motorcycle consumers generally head to motorcycle dealers first, he said. Still, tire dealers who are active in the farm tire market may find some success with the ATV tires, he suggested.