Smith Tire & Tread
WAHPETON, N.D.—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 up production to an expected daily output of about 150 to 175 tires with two curing chambers. Distribution is planned for 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.
Tire Town Inc.
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.—Tire Town Inc., a Michelin consumer and truck tire dealer in Myrtle Beach, has opened a retread plant in that city using Oliver Rubber materials and technology.
“Our commercial business has been a significant part of our day-to-day operations, so adding our Oliver retread facility was the next important step to expand our business,” said Chris King, Tire Town's general manager and director of operations.
“We can now offer retreads to our commercial customers and continue to leverage our existing high-quality processes, equipment and service trucks. This expansion will help us enhance Tire Town's solid reputation.” Tire Town held a grand opening/ribbon cutting Feb. 26, where the company entertained a handful of potential new customers, Mr. King said.
Oliver selected Tire Town “due to the reputation that it has for first-class quality and service in the market it serves,” said Steven Phillips, Oliver's director of sales.
Oliver Rubber is a business unit of Michelin Americas Truck Tires. Tire Town is the only licensed Oliver retreader in South Carolina and one of 80 nationwide. The company covers a territory stretching into eastern North Carolina along the I-95 corridor and as far south as Charleston, S.C., Mr. King said. The plant, in a 15,000-sq.-ft. building that previously housed Tire Town's wholesale business, operates as East Coast Rubber Manufacturing Co., a unit of Tire Town.
Tire Town invested about $400,000 in equipment and building improvements to install the retread plant. The plant is operating with five employees, but Mr. King expects this will grow to 15 to 20 in the coming years. The plant started trial production late last year and has ramped up to more than 300 tires a month.
The goal is to hit 500 tires a month, or one 25-tire chamberload per day, Mr. King said. Mike Bodway, a former employee and retread plant veteran, has returned to Tire Town to be the plant manager, Mr. King said.
Tire Town, founded by Lanier Alford 45 years ago, operates five predominantly retail locations in and around Myrtle Beach, including a commercial/retail store that opened in January in Conway, S.C. Retail makes up about 40 percent of Tire Town's annual sales, with wholesale and commercial accounting for about 30 percent each. Mr. King has been with the dealership since 2008.
Colonial Tire Distributors Inc.
RICHMOND, Va.—Colonial Tire Distributors Inc. has converted its retreading plant in Richmond to Goodyear's Authorized Retread System. Richmond-based Colonial Tire Distributors, a subsidiary of Colonial Truck Co., sells new Goodyear, Dunlop and Kelly commercial truck tires and Goodyear retreads at three locations in Virginia: Richmond, Ashland and Tidewater.
It also carries BFGoodrich-, Cooper-, Michelin-, Ohtsu- and Sailun-brand tires.
“Most of our customers are small-to-mid-size trucking companies, and we do some large fleet work, as well,” said Bob Barkley, Colonial Tire owner. “Regardless of their size, fleets want premium products and services that help them lower their overall operating costs.”
Colonial is converting its 34-year-old, 30,000-sq.-ft. retreading plant in Richmond to the Goodyear system.
The company declined to comment on its previous retread system supplier or on the plant's capacity, but did say production is precure-based. The plant employs six full-time workers and is capable of producing up to 65 tires a day, according to Rob Brown, general manager.
Mr. Barkley said rising demand for retreads over the last few years prompted him to join the Goodyear Authorized Retread network.
“Goodyear has been wonderful to work with,” he noted. “The company's products and services are top-notch, and the technical and sales support that it provides enables us to serve our customers more effectively.”
The company also offers 24/7 emergency roadside assistance through the Goodyear-FleetHQ business solutions program.
“We strive to be a full-service provider to the trucking industry,” Mr. Barkley said. “Our connection to Goodyear gives us an important advantage over our competitors.”
Mr. Brown said Colonial will sell about 85 percent of the plant's output through its own stores and wholesale the rest. The dealership was founded in 1966.
These stories first appeared on www.tirebusiness.com.