Industry Report - Tire Review Magazine

Industry Report

Working its way out from under a $728,000 deficit, the Tire Industry Association (TIA) is closing its Louisville, Ky., offices and training center and consolidating all of its operations at the association’s headquarters in Bowie, Md. The move was announced Jan. 12 and is effective as of Feb. 1.

Apr. 1.

Effective Feb. 1, Mike Gorey, currently BAH vice president and controller and BFNAT chief financial officer, will become chairman, CEO and president of BFS Diversified Products. Gorey succeeds Lampe, who has held those offices since 2003. Gorey will also become an executive vice president of BAH on Feb. 1.

Tomiyasu and Gorey were also elected to the BAH Board of Directors. Hiroshi Kanai, Bridgestone Corp.’s executive vice president and CFO, was also elected to the BAH board.

Toyo and Continental Boosting Prices On Tire Lines in Early 2004

Toyo Tire (USA) Corp. and Continental Tire North America (CTNA) both announced tire price increases for the new year.

Toyo is increasing prices on most of its consumer and commercial tires up to 4% as of Mar. 1. Meanwhile, CTNA said it was bumping prices on its branded and private brand passenger and light truck/SUV tire prices by 3% to 6%, effective Feb. 1. CTNA had previously increased prices on all of its commercial tire lines by 3% to 5% as of Dec. 1, 2003.

BFNAT-USWA Silent: No Contract Talks Since Union Walked Away

No contract talks have been held between Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire (BFNAT) and the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) since early November, when union negotiators walked away from the bargaining table, claiming the tiremaker’s proposal "was an outrage and insult to our members."

BFNAT and the USWA opened talks in late October for a new master labor contract shortly after Goodyear and the union ratified their new three-year deal. USWA negotiators expected BFNAT to follow the pattern established by the Goodyear pact, but BFNAT outlined its own contract proposal, which the union roundly rejected.

Union employees remain on the job at BFNAT tire plants, working day-to-day under the previous contract, but either side can cancel that agreement with 72 hours notice.

"We’re a different company than Goodyear," BFNAT spokesman Dan MacDonald told The Tennessean in response to questions why the company rejected following the Goodyear pact. "It’s not one size fits all."

No further talks have been held or scheduled. USWA said it will not return to the bargaining table until BFNAT makes a new offer. But the tiremaker is waiting for the union to make a move. "The way to take us beyond (the company’s offer) is for the union to step forward and make a contract proposal," MacDonald told the newspaper. "If we offer a counterproposal on our own proposal, then we are negotiating with ourselves."

Lisoni Class Action Dealt Blow With Decision Against Alabama Claim

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama dismissed a Firestone Steeltex suit against Bridgestone/Firestone North America Tire (BFNAT), dealing a serious blow to attorney Joseph Lisoni in his class-action suit against the tiremaker.

Lisoni was the lead attorney in the Alabama suit, filed by a motorist and his wife who claimed a Firestone Steeltex R4S on their truck was defective. Judge James Hancock ruled on Dec. 10 that the plaintiffs submitted no evidence to support their claim.

Meanwhile, Lisoni said he plans to petition NHTSA yet again for a defect investigation of Steeltex tires, this time focusing on emergency vehicles. Lisoni’s previous attempt at gaining a NHTSA investigation failed when NHTSA rejected his petition last spring. Lisoni filed a class-action suit against BFNAT in August 2002 seeking a court-ordered recall of some 30 million Steeltex tires. That case is still pending in California courts.

Kumho Tire Appoints New GM and Reshuffles U.S. Sales Team

Kumho Tire USA appointed J.K. Yoon as general manager and COO as part of a reorganization of the Fontana, Calif., tire company’s operations and marketing efforts.

In his new position, Yoon, a 26-year Kumho veteran, will manage Kumho Tire USA’s operations and marketing departments, and "work closely with the sales and financial departments to help the company develop new markets, increase marketshare and maintain a competitive position in the industry," according to the company.

In a separate move, Rick Brennan, formerly high performance brand manager for Kumho, was named brand manager.

In addition, Kumho restructured its sales organization, under Dave Hudrlik, senior vice president of sales. The moves include:

®′ John Rozko, formerly western division sales manager, is now regional vice president of sales

®′ Roy Rowe, formerly regional sales manager, is now regional vice president of sales

®′ Bryan Marshall, formerly central division sales manager, is now director of sales for corporate accounts

®′ Jeff Korsvik, formerly regional sales manager, is now manager of dealer communication

®′ Aaron Smith, formerly technical service representative, is now sales training coordinator.

Industry Conference Looks at Regulatory Issues, Tire Trends

Representatives from tire manufacturing, academia and government will gather Mar. 10-12 at the Hilton Head Marriott in Hilton Head, S.C., for the 20th annual Tire Industry Conference presented by Clemson University.

The conference is expected to address topics such as: compliance issues brought about by the TREAD Act; the future of the tire industry in developed economies; global tire cord trends; the challenges and concerns of the automotive industry and market; NHTSA tire rulemaking; new run-flat technologies; tire and wheel plus sizing; retreading; and more.

For registration or other information, contact Kay James at Clemson University at 864-656-2200, by fax at 864-656-3997 or visit

Bandag Offers to Pay Portion of TRIB Membership For Its Retreaders

TRIB is getting a major membership boost from Bandag Inc., which recently committed to pay a portion of the membership dues for any Bandag retreader who joins the organization.

In a letter to all Bandag dealers, Andrew Sisler, Bandag vice president of North American franchise sales and support, urged all Bandag dealers to support TRIB.

"Because we at Bandag so strongly believe in what TRIB is doing and would like every Bandag dealer to be a dues-paying TRIB member, Bandag is offering to pick up one-third of the cost of new membership," Sisler wrote.

According to TRIB Executive Director Harvey Brodsky, Bandag’s efforts have already made a difference. "We’re seeing the largest increase in new members in many years, thanks to Bandag’s promotion.

"This is vitally important to the continued effectiveness of TRIB. We encourage Bandag dealers who have not yet sent in their applications to do so while Andy Sisler still is in a sharing mood with his checkbook."

For more information about TRIB, call 888-473-8732 or e-mail [email protected].


Tire Industry Loses Ganin and Zielasko

Two tire industry legends and industry Hall of Famers passed away in recent months. Private brand pioneer Saul Ganin, owner of Ganin Tire Co. in Brooklyn, N.Y., died Oct. 30, at the age of 83. Ernie Zielasko, 84, who founded both Tire Business and Rubber & Plastics News newspapers, died Dec. 13 in Hudson, Ohio.

Ganin, a 1993 inductee into the Tire Industry Hall of Fame, operated seven retail stores plus a commercial center and a Bandag shop in the Bronx. Following World War II, Ganin, along with brothers Jack and Jerry, reorganized the family business, founded by his father, Morris Ganin. Among Ganin’s many accomplishments was his private brand pioneering work that led to the creations of such well-known brands as Reynolds, Brigadier and Vanderbilt.

"Saul Ganin was a man who helped make the tire business a better business with his many contributions," said son-in-law and current company vice president Jeff Zegans. "He had many friends in the tire business throughout the country and was known as a philanthropic man in his community."

Zielasko, one-time editor and publisher of Modern Tire Dealer magazine, co-founded Rubber & Plastics News in 1971, selling the newspaper to Crain Communications in 1976. In 1983, Zielasko directed the creation of Tire Business, and served as editor and publisher of both newspapers. A Tire Industry Hall of Fame inductee in 1993, Zielasko started his tire career in 1947 as a public relations staffer with BFGoodrich Rubber Co.

Marangoni to Make Treads in Old Pirelli Plant

The former Pirelli Armstrong Tire Co. plant in Madison, Tenn., closed since 1996, will soon fire up again, this time to produce spliceless precure tread stock for Marangoni Tread North America (MTNA), which is headquartered at the facility northwest of Nashville.

Marangoni, which moved its headquarters from Walnut Grove, Calif., to leased space at the closed plant in April 2002, said it is spending some $10 million to install equipment to produce its Ringtread System precure tread stock. Production is slated to begin by mid-year, according to Bill Sweatman, MTNA’s president and CEO.

"We have had such tremendous success with the Ringtread and demand is growing so rapidly, we’ve actually tripled our business in the last two years," said Sweatman, "so this additional capacity will be much needed as we continue to grow and expand our business."

MTNA is leasing its headquarters, production and warehousing space from Dylan Custom Mixing, which bought the former Pirelli Armstrong plant in 2000. At the time it leased the space, Marangoni officials said it intended to add production capacity in the U.S.

Marangoni currently has 14 authorized Ringtread System dealers operating in the U.S. and Canada and plans to add two more U.S. dealers in the next few months. The company’s goal was to have 20 North American dealers by the end of 2003.

Tech Sets Dates for Training Sessions

Tech International has announced its 2004 schedule for two- and three-day tire repair seminars. The seminars will be held at Tech’s training center in Johnstown, Ohio, and the repair maker provides lodging and meals.

Tech’s Commercial Tire Dealer Seminars will be held Jan. 11-13, Feb. 22-24, Mar. 21-23, May 16-18, Aug. 15-17, Sept. 26-28 and Nov. 14-16. Its Section Repair and Retread Seminars are set for Jan. 25-28, Apr. 18-21, Sept. 12-15 and Oct. 10-13.

OTR Repair Seminars will be held Mar. 7-10 and Dec. 5-8, while Tech’s TIA-Certified Commercial Tire Technician training will be held Feb. 15-17, May 2-4, June 13-15 and Oct. 3-5.

For more information, contact Tech at 800-433-TECH or 800-336-TECH.

Cooper to Produce Tires in China under Kenda Deal

In a move described by Thomas Dattilo, Cooper chairman, CEO and president, as a significant step forward in the company’s Asian strategy, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. announced it will partner with Taiwan’s Kenda Rubber Industrial Co. to build a plant in China. The plant will produce radial passenger and light truck tires to be exported to North America.

The new endeavor, Cooper Kenda Tire Manufacturing (Jiangsu) Co., will be owned jointly by the two companies and located in China’s Jiangsu Province, near Shanghai. Construction is slated to begin in mid-2004, and the plant should be operational by late 2005, according to Cooper.

Although the companies did not disclose anticipated investment or capacity of the new venture, Dattilo did say the new plant in is line with Cooper’s strategy to add capacity and lower costs. "It also gives us a base for sales in China down the road as the Chinese market increases significantly over the next decade," he said.

Jimmy Yang, president of Kenda USA, added, "The Kenda-Cooper relationship has developed over many years, and we look forward to being partners in this joint venture. Kenda has provided Cooper radial tires in Europe and bias tires for North America with great success, and we are confident in this project, as well." Kenda has supplied Cooper with bias-ply light truck tires since 1999 for North America and radial passenger tires for Europe since 2000.


-Art Bakaitis, 67, longtime communications director for Cooper Tire & Rubber, died Nov. 25.

-Bridgestone Corp. plans to build a radial truck tire plant in India.

-Former NTRDA president Don Perry, 70, owner of Central Tire Distributors in Pleasanton, Calif., died Nov. 6.

-Yokohama Rubber Co. is building a radial truck tire plant in Thailand that will open in April 2005 with an initial capacity of 300,000 units per year, jumping to 600,000 units annually by 2007.

-Polyester fiber producer KoSa is buying Michelin North America’s textile factory in Winnsboro, S.C., and will supply casing fabric to the tiremaker under a multi-year deal.

-Kumho Tire Co. Inc. opened its first fully automated unitized tire plant in Pyeongtark, South Korea, with an initial capacity of two million units per year.

-Challenge Bibendum, Michelin’s annual "clean vehicle" showcase, will be held in Shanghai, China, Oct. 12-14.

-South Dade Automotive, a distributor covering Miami, Palm Beach, Ft. Meyers and Tampa markets, became a member distributor for American Car Care Centers, and will be adding Michelin, BFGoodrich, Uniroyal and American Radial lines.

-Specialty Products Co. purchased off-road suspension component maker Light Racing Inc.


-After fending off a hostile takeover attempt by ArvinMeritor, Dana Corp. will sell its $2.2 billion automotive replacement parts business.

-Bridgestone Corp. will no longer supply bias ply medium truck and bus tires to North America.

-Shareholders approved Yellow Corp.’s acquisition of Roadway Corp., forming Yellow Roadway Corp. which controls some 15% of the LTL trucking market.

-No one was injured when Goodyear’s newest blimp, Spirit of America, launched with much fanfare in September 2002 and crashed into a flower nursery Dec. 4 near its Carson, Calif., base. It was the third crash of a Goodyear blimp in the last four years.

-In a new three-year deal, Michelin North America will supply tires to Volvo Bus for standard fitment on buses produced in its Nova, Blue Bird, Prevost and Volvo Bus de Mexico operations.

-Production officially ended at Goodyear’s closed Huntsville, Ala., plant on Nov. 26, and some equipment is being moved to other Goodyear plants, according to reports.

-From Jan. 1 to Mar. 31, NAPA Brakes’ "Stars of Today" promotion gives installer customers a chance to earn a limited edition stock car racing "legends" leather jacket. See NAPA locations for details.

-TPMS-maker Schrader Electronics opened a second plant in Northern Ireland to produce pressure monitoring systems.


-BFGoodrich has signed on as the official tire of the USAR Hooters Pro-Cup stock car race series, and as the official tire supplier for Skip Barber Racing and affiliated programs.

-Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled that 31 lawsuits filed against Bridgestone Americas Holding and Ford by Mexican nationals must be heard in Mexico and not the U.S.

-Cooper is investing nearly $8 million at its Tupelo, Miss., plant to add capacity for large (17-inch to 22-inch) diameter Zeon ultra-high performance tires.

-Goodyear announced that Stephanie Bergeron, senior vice president of corporate financial operations since January 2002, has retired, and her position will be eliminated.

-Updates to Toyo Tires’ consumer Web site added product news, vehicle photo sharing, a list of racetracks, and an e-commerce area.

-Bridgestone/Firestone named Clifford Ripley, of Spruce Grove, Alberta, and Paul Pelletier, of Saskatoon, Sask., as recipients of the 2003 Canadian Truck Hero Award.

-Goodyear earned its first 18-inch light truck tire OE fitment with the Wrangler AT/S in size LT275/65R18 on the 204 Ford F-150 4×4 and the F-250 Super Duty Harley-Davidson Edition.

-ASA’s 12th annual Vision Hi-Tech Training & Expo, targeting vehicle service businesses, will be held Mar. 5-7 in Overland Park, Kan. Call Sheri Hamilton at 816-781-5801 for details.

-GM suppliers must accept a new "do or die" contract clause that gives them 30 days to meet more competitive pricing or comparable improvements in technology, design or quality offered by any other supplier.

-Titan International wants to take its Titan Europe subsidiary public on London’s AIM stock market.

-Fountain Tire, a 48-store dealer based in Edmonton, received platinum status as one of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies, presented by the Platinum Club.

-California Bar Association rejected a complaint by Bridgestone Americas Holding seeking to have Joseph and Gail Lisoni, lead attorneys in a class action suit filed against the company, disbarred.

-Tire Kingdom International has taken over marketing and sales of Sonic brand tires, a private label formerly marketed by Parish Tire Co.

-In a recent financial report, TBC said it would end 2003 with 580 franchised Big O stores and 590 owned locations (Tire Kingdom, Merchants, NTB), and has plans to add 25 Big O and at least 20 owned retail stores in 2004. Long-term, TBC said it wants to add as many as 500 owned stores.

-Ryder Systems Inc. bought out truck leasing firms General Car & Truck and Ruan Leasing, a subsidiary of Ruan Transportation Management; the deals add some 10,800 trucks to Ryder’s holdings.

-Fleetwood RV tapped Goodyear to supply standard fitment tires for all of its new towable and motor coach models.

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