LAS VEGASContinental Tire the Americas L.L.C.'s new earthmover tires unit isn't planning to leave any stonesor bouldersunturned as it seeks to expand its fledgling customer base.
The unit has some lofty goalsand deep ones if you consider the underground and aboveground mining segmentsaccording to T. Shawn Rasey, Conti's director of global business development, earthmover tires, who came onboard almost a year ago October.
He joined Conti after stints with Bridgestone Americas, Yokohama Tire Corp. and BKT Americas.
The new unit, which launched Aug. 1, has really hit the ground running.
It's really a steep, fast-growing pace, Mr. Rasey told Tire Business on the show floor of the recent MINExpo 2016 at the Las Vegas Convention Center moments after unveiling a slew of commercial/mining tires at Conti's booth, which also featured displays of its technological product advancements as well as new belts and hoses from the company's ContiTech unit.
We're talking (here at MINExpo) about our material-handling productit's been the core of everything we've got, he continued.
Now we have this earthmover/OTR product line coming on, and next year the agricultural product line coming, so as a business unit, we're essentially going to triple the number of items that we have and the options we will offer customers. So there's a lot of exciting activity.
Initial reactions from Conti's dealer base to the launch of the new unit have been positive, according to Mr. Rasey. Now being able to get them new product is really at the core of why Continental came back (into this segment).
We were out of this space for 10 years and, really, what drew us back in is two things: One was requests from our customers that what they were looking for was another big tire option.
And secondly, the ability to really start to leverage our technologies, he said.
We've come so far from when we were in this business originally to our re-entry now to where we're at now, and starting to talk...about all the exciting things on the forefront and being able to bring new solutions to our customers.
From the dealers' point of view, Mr. Rasey said he thinks this is something that's exciting for our dealers and distribution base because some of these new technologieslike (Conti's) iTyrewill really be an affordable option for potentially some segments.
Conti's iTyre is tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) technology that Conti puts in mining and OTR tires rather than on a valve stem, according to a spokesman.
Mr. Rasey said this is important because, for these segments, it has been difficult to serve them with this kind of solution because most of the previous solutions were geared toward really giant fleets with 240-ton and (larger) trucks.
So this makes it potentially a much more affordable option for our dealers to present to their customers. It's really kind of a combination of things.
As for Conti's soliciting business for its new earthmover tire unit, it's going after at least one big playerCaterpillar Inc.which had a huge presence at the MINExpo show almost as gargantuan as some of the equipment it had on display. The expo occurs every four years and this time around, according to one source, drew more than 50,000 through its turnstiles since opening Sept. 26. However, another source said that number is down from previous years that saw attendance between 80,000 and 100,000 attendees.
The show, which its organizers call the largest mining show onand underEarth, closed Sept. 28.
While it is a bit premature to discuss much about Conti's overall goals for its new unit, Mr. Rasey acknowledged that the company is working with Caterpillar right nowthey're a key target for us. But we're so new into this segment, and a lot of this is still emerging.
There are a lot of the large aggregate and mining companies, both underground and above groundthat we'll focus on with our dealer network. But again, it's a little premature to call anybody out yet.
We started the release here in North America Aug. 1, so we're pretty fresh.
Among the tires Conti displayed at MINExpo were the Continental EM-Master and RDT-Master for the earthmoving sector, and the UndergroundMaster, DrillMaster, DumperMaster and ScoopMaster for mining applications, according to Enno Straten, managing director, commercial specialty tires.
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