HOUSTONAfter operating for 15 years in Hot Springs, S.D., light truck/SUV tire retreader TreadWright Inc. has uprooted its operations and moved to a 50,000-sq.-ft. facility in Houston.
Since changing ownership in 2011, the retreader has been making plans to expand its business. The move to the major port city is expected to be more cost effective and improve its production capabilities, according to President Peter Sloan.
TreadWright, founded in 1981 by Joe Hawkins, was originally called High-Tec Retreading. It most recently was owned and operated by his grandsons, Aaron, Joel and Rick Hawkins Jr. In August 2011, the Hawkins family sold a majority interest in the company to Denver-based Pine Street Growth Partners, a private equity group, so as to transition into a more supervisory role in the business, according to Mr. Sloan, one of the three partners in the equity firm.
The move to Houston earlier this year was the final step in the management transition, he said. All the equipment and operations were relocated from the nearly 30,000 sq.-ft. facility in Hot Springs to the new premises in Houston.
The company is in the process of hiring staff to fill 20 positions at all levels. In the near term, the company expects to grow its staff to 30.
The company also launched a redesigned website featuring a new look for the brand and an enhanced customer experience, the retreader said, in an effort to build brand awareness and consumer recognition of the brand and its high-performance tires.
Our relocation to a major market city and the launch of the new website are key milestones for us and for our customers, Mr. Sloan said. They are in response to our mission to meet and exceed our customers' needs.
The company is ranked as the fifth largest passenger/light truck tire retreader in North America, based on rubber used in 2013, according to Tire Business' annual rankings of retreaders.
The Houston facility is manufacturing an average of 180 mold-cure light truck retreads per day, Mr. Sloan said, but peak production is expected to reach 250 to 300 tires per day, especially during the busy season of hunting and fishing in autumn.
The plant retreads tires in 15- to 19.5-inch rim diameter sizes and plans to launch a 20-inch tire in the future, according to Mr. Sloan.
TreadWright sells its retreaded tires directly to customers via its website, phone and walk-ins. Its sales have grown mainly through word-of-mouth, Mr. Sloan said.
About 60 percent of sales are made through its website, he said, so the revamped site is designed to help customers search tires by using a search-by-vehicle window; view all TreadWright tires by sizes; and provide a descriptive infographic showing the retread production process. Outdoor enthusiasts are directed to videos where they can view the outdoor capabilities of TreadWright tires.
Our biggest obstacle to sales is getting (consumers) to know the product is out there and getting them to embrace the value of the product. And once they try it, they're believers. We're growing the market at the same time we're growing TreadWright, Mr. Sloan said.
The company hasn't set up dealer distribution due to its production capacity limitations.
Our biggest challenge is that we can't make enough tires to satisfy demand. We have back orders. We have frustrated customers. And by making the move to Houston, we can build the team, we can build up our capacity, so not only can we serve our current customers better, but it enables us to go to a regional tire chain...and give predictable supply to support inventory requirements.
Right now, until we get the plant up and running at full speed, we can't deliver on that goal. But that is our goal.
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