Minoo Mehta, president of BKT USA Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of India's Balkrishna Industries Ltd. (BKT), discussed his company's successes as well as the challenges ahead in an interview with Tire Business.
Q: How would you describe business thus far in 2018?
A: For BKT, it has been the best start this year compared to the last three years. Demand for BKT tires is primarily fueled by excellent quality, which creates repeated fitments once tires get on wheels. All segments of our tire business are showing growth for us, with large OTR tires leading the way.
Q: What are some of the pleasant surprises you are seeing in the industry?
A: The biggest surprise seen this year is the result of antidumping and countervailing duty rulings on imports of Chinese truck tires in Chinese manufacturers' favor.
For OTR tires, where the ruling was not in their favor, Chinese manufacturers have been fast to react in moving production to other neighboring countries for the U.S.A., thereby increasing the imports from Thailand and Vietnam considerably.
Q: Where do you see the industry markets heading during the last half of 2018?
A: The tire industry is growing at a reasonable pace, and we feel it will continue during the last half of 2018. However, the industry will be implementing price increases based on the current price trends of raw materials.
Q: What kind of trends are you seeing in the marketplace? How is your company reacting to them?
A: BKT truly cares about the end customers of BKT tires, and we listen to their needs and provide solutions. We are making headway with growth.
We have also been focusing on brand awareness of the BKT brand to end consumers, and we are seeing growth. We have also been spending a high percentage of our top line in promoting our brand and in research and development.
BKT operates in a niche market of OTR tires, and hence consolidations, mergers and joint marketing agreements by manufacturers do not really affect us in our tire markets.
Q: What sectors look to be strong? Are they sustainable?