WAHPETON, N.D. (Oct. 13, 2013) — Veteran retreader Jim Smith, with the backing of five other investors, has struck out on his own and founded Smith Tire & Tread, a Goodyear Unicircle and precure retread plant in Wahpeton.
Mr. Smith brings 20 years of retread industry experience with him to the startup, including 16 years as retread plant manager at Heartland Tire Inc. in Brainerd, Minn.
The new business opened recently in a purpose-built 22,000-sq.-ft. facility and is gearing production up to an expected daily output of about 150 to 175 tires with two curing chambers, with distribution planned to commercial truck tire dealerships throughout North and South Dakota.
Mr. Smith did not disclose the investment in the plant.
Production is running at about 75 to 100 tires a day during the start-up phase, with five employees, including Mr. Smith and his 18-year-old daughter, the new business owner said.
"Our main focus is on the dealer business, but we also have plans to aggressively grow our business with end-users," Mr. Smith said. "UniCircle gives us a product that none of our competitors have."
As for the timing of the founding of the company, Mr. Smith said: "As you know when you are good at something, sometimes you have to take the leap and venture out on your own…."
Mr. Smith's partners in the venture are Jamie LaRoche, Brendan VanSambeek, Monique Jensen , Doug Dahlgren and Mike Hemphill of Tires Only Group, Minot, N.D., and Dakota Wholesale, Fargo, N.D., which are providing the distribution assets for Smith Tire & Tread.
Mr. Smith said he'd like to add a commercial tire service location as well, but figures that will take one to two years. The priority now is ramping up capacity at the retread plant.
Wahpeton is the county seat of Richland County, North Dakota, with a population of about 7,800. It is located about 50 miles south of Fargo.