Route 66 will launch in October a zero-degree irrigation tire line, which Mr. Hubbard said is designed to provide superior forward and reverse traction due to a non-directional tread design. In addition, it can be mounted on a wheel and bolted onto the machine in any position, unlike a typical R-1 tire.
“We have had ours developed on the drawing board for over two years,” Mr. Hubbard said. “We now have decided that it was time to bring out our latest superior product that shows why we are No. 1 globally in irrigation and set the standard for all others.”
In addition, the firm is preparing to build 69-inch radial OTR tires. Speedways has already added some equipment to the plant but is still waiting for molds, Mr. Hubbard said. He estimated the line of giant OTR tires will be ready to ship in another two years.
Speedways Rubber, which was established in 1967, is among the top 10 largest tire producer in India, according to Tire Business' annual ranking of the world's tire makers. Mr. Hubbard said Speedways produces more than 1 million tires a year at a 1.5 million-sq.-ft. plant in Jalandhar, and the firm makes upward of 500 SKUs, with a presence in 75 countries worldwide.
Mr. Hubbard did not disclose how much Speedways has invested in upgrading its plant, but among its expansions the company has added “one of the biggest mixing facilities in the world,” an advanced rubber extruder bit and a full testing facility, allowing it to do its own compound testing under one roof.
When it comes to tires, heavier is not better, Mr. Hubbard noted.
“More efficient, lighter, longer wearing, more impact resistant—that's better,” he said. “...In order to do that you have to build better facilities, better capabilities.”
For Speedways, efficiency in the manufacturing process has been the key to its success.
“In India, the rubber market fluc-tuates up and down 2 percent,” Mr. Hubbard said.
“We have to make better, more efficient products...without using additives and regrind rubber to make a better product, but we still have to compete with Chinese tires. We don't want to build a cheaper product — we want to build a better product for less money.”
On the U.S. end, Mr. Hubbard said one of Route 66's goals in the coming years is to build a distribution warehouse in the U.S. Right now, Speedways' tires are shipped directly to partner distributors.
“We got it to where we control all the freight,” he said. “We have containers that actually sit at the plant so if somebody calls us up we now have a distribution warehouse. We can load that thing tonight and ship it to the port.
“Whereas in India sometimes it takes two weeks to get containers, we have them on site at all times because we have agreements with the shipping company.”
To reach this reporter: [email protected]; 330-865-6148; Twitter: @Will_Schertz