Hercules Tire & Rubber Co. has opened a Latin America sales office in Miami to support its drive to increase business throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean.
Hercules tapped Luis Torres-formerly export manager for Tire Distributor Inc. (TDI) prior to Hercules' buying it in July-to be managing director of the Miami office. Together Hercules and TDI operate 135,000 square feet of warehouse space in south Florida that will support the company's export sales initiative.
Hercules did not quantify its sales expectations for the business, but Hercules CEO Larry Seawell said TDI generated about $30 million in business in south Florida and Latin America last year and that the expanded export drive is part of Hercules' projected 9- to 15-percent growth in fiscal 2007 to $475 million to $500 million.
The sales expansion comes on the heels of 11-percent growth in fiscal 2006, Mr. Seawell noted, reflecting Hercules' strength in an otherwise down market. Sales in North America represent about 82 percent of the firm's revenues, he said.
Adding Hercules' brands and the international sales expertise of its export division to TDI's existing distribution strengths throughout Latin America, Mr. Seawell said, will allow the company to expand its sales in the region markedly.
Rocky McDonough and Tony Lugioyo, who also came to Hercules via TDI, will continue to support export sales initiatives throughout the region, Hercules said.
In addition, Hercules told distributors attending its annual dealer meeting in Las Vegas that it has budgeted $10 million through 2009 to buy molds for new and upgraded tire lines it has in the pipeline.
At the meeting, Hercules disclosed two new Hercules tire lines-the mud-terrain Trail Digger M/T and the Terra Trac HT touring-along with expanded size range offerings in several Hercules and Merit tire lines.
Also looking forward, Hercules told dealers it will be increasing its supply relationships with its key Chinese partners-South China Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd.; GITI Tire/Anhui Tire; Shandong Linglong Rubber Co. Ltd.; and Qingdao Sailun Radial Tyre Co. Ltd.-while also continuing to scout China and Asia for new sources of supply.
On another front, Hercules said its Signet brand will be made exclusively starting next year by South Korea's Nexen Tire Corp., which is one of Hercules key private label suppliers.
Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. is the company's single largest private brand supplier, accounting for 31 percent of the firm's private brand business.