This is the year of the rat in China and a year of varying views when it comes to the off-the-road (OTR) tire market in the U.S.
Only time will tell as to how 2020 ultimately will unfold, but Tire Business asked a handful of industry insiders to gaze into the crystal ball to provide some insight for the upcoming year.
Vernon Skinner, who has spent a lifetime around tires, expects 2020 to be just about the same as 2019.
And while he expects similar market demand for these types of tires, he hopes for a bit of improvement in the coming year.
Skinner Firestone Inc. dates to 1961, when Mr. Skinner's father started the business in Beverly, Ohio. Vernon Skinner came into the business in the early 1970s and made a life for himself and his family by serving the tire needs of local folks in southeastern Ohio.
Skinner Firestone sells all types of tires, whatever the community needs, and OTR is just one aspect of his business. It's now a three-generation family business.
When it comes to OTR business for Skinner, that essentially means tires used on the farm. And there's been plenty of questions about the viability of farming in recent years as farmers look to cut costs in various areas of operations — including tires.
OTR tires, Mr. Skinner said, "was average" in 2019. "You get more calls with people wanting lower-end stuff just to get by."
Farmers also have been looking to make their tires last as long as possible instead of replacing them as they face the economic realities of their business these days. "People repaired more stuff than normal."
Mr. Skinner, who has been working in the family business for 47 years, expects more of the same in 2020 for his corner of the world in southeast Ohio. "It might be a little better, but it might be the same," he said.
Over at Lewis General Tires Inc. in north-central New York, President Craig Lewis said he believes the future is a bit cloudy.