Retread Industry Update - Tire Review Magazine

Retread Industry Update

It’s important for dealers to educate fleets about the economic and environmental benefits of using retreaded tires.
It’s important for dealers to educate fleets about the economic and environmental benefits of using retreaded tires.

The global retread industry is facing difficult and uncertain times. But there are bright spots within the industry and opportunities for growth in many markets.

The retread industry has always been about delivering a quality product at an economically advantageous price while also delivering high-impact environmental savings. With increasing supply and over-supply of inexpensive third- and fourth-tier products coming from China, the economic savings component of retreading has come under increasing short-term pressure. However, with the Department of Commerce’s preliminary affirmative finding in their countervailing duty investigation of imported truck and bus tires from China and their continued anti-dumping investigation, the retread industry may have some much needed help on the way to level the playing field.

That said, we cannot rely on these measures alone. We must continue innovate in our industry and educate users about the economic and environmental benefits of retreaded tires.

Using retreaded tires as a part of a fleet’s overall tire management program is about managing a valuable asset over multiple lives to create the best return on investment in tires and deliver the lowest cost-per-mile to the business. Unfortunately, short-term thinking can often undermine a long-term focus on profitability. This short-term thinking has started to impact retreading markets in the U.S., Europe and Latin America as retreaded tires are increasingly competing directly with these lower-tier new tires. This is one of the reasons we jointly hosted the Global Retread Symposium with the Tire Industry Association (TIA) during the Global Tire Expo in Las Vegas last November.

We brought together the heads of associations representing the retread industries as well as retreaders in each of these markets to discuss the current state of our industry and the challenges we face, including ideas to tackle these challenges. This same thinking has led us to partner with Asian Business Media to develop a new Asian Retread Conference in October of 2016 to bring together the best minds in the retread industry to share best practices, technological developments and pave the way for future growth of retreading.

The Tire Retread & Repair Information Bureau (TRIB) has a simple mission: To promote and defend retreading worldwide.

The “promote” side of our association is easy: once you tell the story of retreading, people understand what a great benefit it is to renew tires to save raw materials, reduce carbon emissions, reduce landfill and save significant amounts of money.

Unfortunately, there are still myths that exist around retreading that have at times prevented our industry’s growth. This is why TRIB spends so much time defending our industry and educating the public, fleets and governments about the true facts and benefits of retreading.

TRIB seeks to educate consumers about the benefits of retreading through a series of videos. The association is currently making Spanish and Portuguese versions of on of its most popular videos - “The True Causes of Rubber on the Roads” and “The Environmental Benefits of Retreading.
TRIB seeks to educate consumers about the benefits of retreading through a series of videos. The association is currently making Spanish and Portuguese versions of on of its most popular videos – “The True Causes of Rubber on the Roads” and “The Environmental Benefits of Retreading.

It’s important that as the retread market continues to face challenges, we continue to expand our educational efforts to help fleet owners and managers understand how to properly care for tire casings so they can be successfully retreaded multiple times. Proper tire maintenance, proper inflation, proper loading and establishing pull points for casings are all important aspects of creating successful and sustainable retread programs.

In the U.S. and in other markets, this education of fleets has greatly improved as new tire manufacturers have continued to expand in retreading. They have been able to leverage their new tire technology and engineering to bring those technologies across to their retread divisions.

Customers who are comfortable with a particular tread compound and design in a new tire can be confident they’ll seeing the same performance from a retreaded tire using similar compounds and tread designs. Once you marry new and retreaded tires with a nationwide network of repair and service facilities, you can truly provide one-stop shopping for your customers.

In order for retreading to continue to grow around the world, there must be continued focus on quality and establishing and adhering to recommended practices for tire retreading.

We are not in favor of overly burdensome regulations for our members. In the U.S., the retread industry has done a good job with self-regulating to ensure that safety and reliability remain top priorities. TRIB currently works with our colleagues at the Tread Rubber and Tire Repair Materials Manufacturers’ Group (TRMG) to make available to our members a free copy of the “Industry Recommended Practices for Tire Retreading and Tire Repair” handbook.

Maintaining a focus on quality often comes back to keeping up with continued advancements in technology. Retreaders need to keep investing with their partners or in their own labs to develop superior compounds and tread designs, as well as investing in equipment, such as non-destructive testing (NDT) equipment, to improve both the inspection of tire casings and the finished product itself.

In addition to the Global Retread Symposium and the Asian Retread Conference, TRIB is doing many other things to help promote the retread industry to a worldwide audience.

We are putting the finishing touches on Spanish and Portuguese versions of our two most popular videos: “The Environmental Benefits of Retreading” and “The True Causes of Rubber on the Roads.” We are also filming a new “Retread Plant Tour” video so potential customers can clearly see the care that goes into manufacturing a retreaded tire.

Last year, we completed a cross-country tour of the U.S. to visit several of our member’s retread plants within the American Commercial Tire Network to continue to provide positive media coverage of our industry. I encourage you to visit our website to learn more about what we do as well as attend the Asian Retread Conference in October. 

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Dealer Training for a New Marketplace

Twenty years ago, a young non-profit professional was tasked with convincing the truck tire and wheel service industry that they needed to train their employees in order to comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. It’s just as absurd as it sounds. Employee training has been required by OSHA for almost 40 years

Twenty years ago, a young non-profit professional was tasked with convincing the truck tire and wheel service industry that they needed to train their employees in order to comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. It’s just as absurd as it sounds. Employee training has been required by OSHA for almost 40 years so the objective was to make them compliant with laws they should have already been following. And, it still took some convincing!
Fast-forward to 2016 and OSHA training regulations are at the bottom of the list when it comes to the problems facing most of the commercial tire dealers in the U.S. Compliance is met on the first day and the technician receives additional training in order to become certified in most cases. It’s a crystal clear process and virtually guarantees that every technician is properly trained in the eyes of the law.
For the retail industry, the legal obligation is not so cut and dry. The OSHA regulation that requires technician training for truck tires specifically excludes passenger and light truck tires. As a result, a lot of retailers continue with the ancient and indefensible method of providing education with on-the-job-training, also known as OJT. OJT relies on an experienced technician to show the new employee how to do the job. It’s also called “Old Joe” training because Old Joe passes his bad habits to New Joe who eventually becomes the next Old Joe and passes two generations of bad habits to the next New Joe and so on.
While truck tires and wheels haven’t changed much over the past two decades, the passenger and light truck tire industry has experienced a revolution. Between size proliferation, low profile sidewalls, tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) and online sales, the technological impact by itself is a lot to digest. However, there are millions of millennials who need tires now or in the future, and the retailer that finds the sweet spot for this generation of tire buyers will be in a very good position.
The best place to start is with technicians. Future tire buyers know virtually nothing about their automobiles, but they are not going to tolerate mistakes. If they get bad service or think something isn’t fixed correctly, they are going to absolutely bomb you on social media. From ratings pages to your own Web page, isolated instances can appear to be standard business practices for the next generation. If the employees who are responsible for mounting and installing the tires are not properly trained, they are going to keep making the same mistakes, putting your reputation at risk.
I find myself using the online rating service occasionally, but I don’t believe everything I read online. However, the next generation of a tire buyer does.
Another unfortunate truth about the new marketplace is the sudden increase in the number of OSHA inspections that appear to be targeting retail tire dealers. Compliance with all of the applicable OSHA regulations is not something that happens overnight. The truck-tire dealers figured it out a while ago and many are compliant across the board. Retailers aren’t familiar with OSHA so it’s easy for little things – like fire extinguishers past the expiration date, dirty floors or a ground plug that is missing from an extension cord – to slip by and go unnoticed.
One lay-up for the OSHA inspector is hazard communication. By Dec. 1, 2013, every employer in the U.S. was required to train all of their employees on the new label elements and safety data sheets for hazardous materials in the workplace. This means every chemical used in the shop (oil, fluids, aerosol sprays, etc.) must have specific information on the label and correspond to a safety data sheet (SDS) at a designated location. The objective, and a good one, is to make sure that any accidental ingestion, inhalation, exposure or absorption is met with the appropriate medical attention immediately. It’s “Workplace Safety 101,” yet I’m willing to bet that an embarrassing number of tire dealers (both retail and commercial) will have difficulty producing records that show training, and even more difficulty producing an SDS for every chemical in the shop.
For a complete copy of the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard, visit osha.gov.
Next, it’s time to look at training for the sales counter. For the small percentage of people in general who pick up the phone and call a business to speak with a salesperson, that call has to be on the money every time. The phone sales consultants and trainers make some serious claims about how many sales are lost because people don’t know how to sell over the phone. When the phone rings, the person answering it – who either transfers the call or helps the caller – had better be trained to do it correctly or the phone might stop ringing altogether.
In the new passenger and light-truck tire marketplace, getting the customer in the door is the greatest challenge. That explains why our members are telling us that sales training is becoming more important. On the retail side, there is unlimited competition and it’s only growing, so the knowledge and ability of the sales associate has to make a tremendous impact on the tire buyer. Again, it doesn’t happen overnight, so sales training and coaching will become more important as the number of people who actually want to interact with a real person decreases.

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