One can get overwhelmed visiting Las Vegas, not to mention hitting the SEMA and AAPEX shows. If a company has a new product or service, it’s hard to attract anyone’s attention, especially a potential customer or the media. The 2008 edition was no exception. However, there was one new product that caught the eye of at least one magazine (this one).
“We sent out invitations to a press conference, and only one guy showed up,” said Joe Bowman, marketing director of Slime/Accessories Marketing Inc. of Grover Beach, Calif.
It’s easy to have a new product get lost in the show. The product was not a Vegas-shattering offering, but the process involved in bringing it to a specific market was tough, and the application is almost mind-boggling.
The product is a flat tire repair kit that is specifically designed to accommodate any tire with a tire pressure monitoring system. It’s called the Slime Safety Spair flat tire repair system. But it’s no ordinary sealant, and plenty of thoughtful and objective research and development went into the creation of the product.
In a unique cooperative development project with a leading TPMS component manufacturer (Schrader-Bridgeport), an independent test facility (Standard Testing Labs), and an automobile manufacturer (General Motors), Accessories Marketing went straight for the TPMS valve stem.
“We specifically designed and marketed Slime for TPMS-equipped vehicles,” said Bowman. “We re-formulated our tire sealant formula for tubeless tires in two ways, and both products are safe for tire sensors. The Smart Spair (which retails on the aftermarket for about $24.95) provides our TPMS formula in a recyclable bottle. Just remove the valve core, squeeze the Slime through the valve and the sensor core, replace the valve core, air up with the 12-volt tire inflator, and go.”
The second product, the patented all-in-one Safety Spair (which retails for about $59.95) is faster and includes a hose, gauge and back-lit instructions for nighttime operation. The built-in tire gauge makes it easy to determine when proper, safe operating pressure has been reached. LED light allows for nighttime use, and the canvas storage bag features a reflective triangle warning to alert oncoming motorists. For a limited time, the kit includes one-year roadside assistance and free refills of the Slime Safety Spair sealant.
The sealant works very simply. Air forces the new Safety Spair Sealant through the valve core, through the sensor and then re-inflates the tire. The built-in tire pressure gauge in the inflator assists in full and proper inflation.
Now, this may sound a lot similar to Continental’s ContiComfortKit, and in a lot of ways it is. The ContiComfortKit also works with TPMS sensors and has an OE position with Ford, the tiremaker said, but the units are only available through The Tire Rack. The Slime system will be available through a broader range of retailers.
The Road to Slime
The uniqueness of the Slime Safety Spair is a solid testimonial to the pre-launch activities.
In 2007, the company approached General Motors with its proposal to offer it as part of the original equipment package. GM agreed to review the product, but needed valid data that the sealant would be compatible with the new TPMS-equipped vehicles.
“On behalf of GM, we worked with Schrader to help develop the product,” said Tim Chai, vice president of key accounts for Sealant Systems International, the part of the company that works solely with OEMs. “Then we contracted with Standard Testing Labs on testing to ensure objectivity.”
STL conducted three separate tests on the product a pass-through test; an immersion test and a vapor test to see if Slime could seal a flat tire and not gum-up any TPMS components. Slime passed all three tests. The sealant did not clog up the sensor; it was not affected when immersed; nor were the components affected by the aerosol or vapor test.
As a result of the testing, AAA gave Slime a preferred product designation. But most importantly, GM awarded Accessories Marketing a contract to supply eight new OEM platforms in 2010, the first being the all-new Chevy Camaro.
One of the primary factors in the product’s acceptance by GM were new CAFE standards, which will result in reduced vehicle weights in that model year. GM is removing the spare tire and replacing it (and adding space to accommodate it) with a Slime Safety Spair kit in each vehicle.
Chai estimates that his company spent more than $200,000 alone on research and testing for the product. “Schrader’s pass-through test was very important,” said Chai, “because temperature is one of the catalysts that make the product work.”
Bowman added, “The Slime products save time, and possible injury. Both are guaranteed to repair punctures in the tread area up to a quarter-inch (6mm), and both liquid tire sealant formulas are safe for sensors.”
So what happens if someone has a flat tire and uses the product?
“At their earliest convenience (product is guaranteed for 500 miles), they should just have a tire professional clean out the non-toxic liquid tire sealant, repair the tire from the inside, and the tire is good to go. If the puncture is not in the tread area; a new tire may be required,” said Bowman.
Do they have other products in the development stages that will apply to vehicles with TPMS? “Yes, more later,” said Bowman. “Right now we are working with unique magnetic tire gauges and Quick Check Caps that are safer than most. And some European manufacturers are using a version of our kit to remove the spare tire and add natural gas fuel tanks. Very green.”
In existence since 1989, Slime sells its flat tire repair products in 36 countries through 60,000 points of distribution. Tire dealers, service shops and parts stores are target markets for Slime products.
The product will be available on the market in December, and the company plans a $1 million TV ad campaign in the spring of 2009.