Whether they realize it or not, commercial trucking fleets out there are saving hundreds of thousands of dollars every year due to the efforts of Mike Evans and his team at CDC Ventures.
Mike is in the business of importing quality tire casings for the most popular truck tire sizes in the U.S., which he distributes to dozens of retreaders in his network. He buys hundreds of containers full of them every year from places like Japan, Israel and Australia, and supplies them to some of the largest retreaders in the industry, like those from Goodyear, Bridgestone, Michelin, Southern Tire Mart, Les Schwab and more. Mike says it’s impossible to even speculate how many trucks are on the road spec’d with retreads created from one of his imported casings.
Operating in a niche corner of the tire industry, Mike says even tire industry veterans are often surprised to learn how hands-on a tire casing importer must be to keep the wheels turning. For example, Mike personally flies out to meet with anyone he’s interested in buying casings from to vet their casing inspection processes and dictate whether those casings are up to his standards. Many times, he says, he invests thousands of dollars and weeks of his time traveling to a foreign country only to find the casings he was interested in aren’t up to snuff.
“I only buy from companies that have a proven inspection system and the ability to ship us quality tires. And with my background owning and operating retread plants for 25 years before I got into casings, it gave me a pretty good background for determining the quality of casings,” he says. “I wouldn’t buy from anybody whose country I haven’t traveled to, gone to their facility, looked at how they do things and felt comfortable. So, it’s a personal vetting that I do.”
As it turns out, Mike’s vigilance for quality might have been the best way to prepare for the market turbulence brought on by COVID, because his customers know they can trust his product. Plus, despite prices having risen all throughout the supply chain – especially egregious in containerized overseas shipping – Mike has remained a master of staying on top of variables like exchange rates and ocean shipping rates, and his ability to communicate what is happening in the market has kept his relationships tight with retreaders across the nation.
“We’ve been doing this a long time and we have customers who are relying on us, and they understand what we’re up against,” he says. “So far we’ve had a core group of retreaders who know they want to keep operating, and I don’t take it for granted.”
He advises tire dealers should always be working to build trust with their customers, as this trust can help to protect a business against the unpredictable, should it arrive.
“Nobody can tell what’s going to happen. And I don’t know either,” he says. “All you can do each day is to try to do the best you can. In the end, that’s all you can do.”