Attendance at the Global Tire Expo was heavy early, but steady all four days.

Attendance at the Global Tire Expo was heavy early, but steady all four days.

I didn’t get up to the Upper South Hall to see how Notel turns an SUV or light truck into a comfortable bed (it “pays for itself with skipping just 4-6 hotel stays”),  but I did spend all four days at last week’s SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) Show.

Most of my time was spent at the Global Tire Expo, which is one part of the show. Along with the Automotive Aftermarket Parts Exposition (AAPEX), the SEMA Show and Global Tire Expo are part of Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week in Las Vegas. Here are my thoughts.

* According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, SEMA estimated there would be 160,000 attendees for its show at the Las Vegas Convention. Based on what I saw, that would be a little high.

* Speaking of attendance, Friday’s Global Tire Expo has sometimes been dead in the past. This year it was the least attended of the four days, but attendance was steady. There was a very long line to meet and greet American automobile designer and SEMA Hall of Famer Chip Foose at the Pirelli booth.

Tire's Warehouse pulled off a miracle relocation of its blackjack tournament.

Tire's Warehouse pulled off a miracle relocation of its blackjack tournament.

* When the power went out at the Paris Hotel & Casino on Nov. 3, Tire’s Warehouse Inc. had to move its Tire One Program Dealer Event to Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. That included moving a 2016 Mazda MX5, the grand prize in the blackjack tournament (Armando Valenzuela Jr. from A&V Tire Service in Oxnard, Calif., was the winner). It also had to move many of its dealers, who were staying at the Paris and were locked out of their rooms. President Dan King, Director of Marketing Ken Hsu, and the whole marketing team helped successfully pull off the last-minute relocation – all dressed as casually as the rest of the attendees.

* Mud terrain tire offerings were quite popular. Off-road racer Jason Coleman, known for his success in the Best in the Desert Racing Association, was in the Omni United (S) Ptd. Ltd. booth promoting Radar tires. He races on the Renegade R5 M/T, but showed me the new Renegade R7 M/T upgrade. Our tweet with the most impressions -- by far -- highlighted Nitto Tire U.S.A. Inc.’s new Ridge Grappler, which technically is “a fit between an all-terrain and a mud-terrain,” which some companies are calling an R/T. On the other end of the spectrum was the Trail Blade Boss from Atturo Tire Corp. The fourth tire in the Trail Blade series, the Trail Blade Boss is designed for extreme terrain -- maybe it should be called an X/T.

* Kenda USA is entering the ultra-high performance all-season segment with its new Vezda UHP A/S tire. I was told it actually outperforms the Kenda Kaiser UHP summer tire, which is being revamped.

* Guess who is manufacturing the DieHard private brand tire for Sears Holdings Corp.? Kumho Tire Co. Inc.

* A few years ago, SEMA let the public into the Las Vegas Convention Center on Friday. Exhibitors didn’t like that, so SEMA Ignited was born. Described as the “official SEMA Show after-party,” SEMA Ignited was held outside after the show closed at 4 p.m. The party featured hundreds of show cars and trucks, drift demonstrations, celebrities, and food. Now that’s a win-win.

* Nick Mitchell, senior vice president of research for Northcoast Research Holdings LLC, attended the show (along with the supposedly retired Saul Ludwig) and spoke with many key figures in the global tire industry. His contacts told him that in 2017, consumer tire sell-out volumes “will be in the range of 0% to 2%,” with SUV and light truck tires showing the strongest growth; the pricing environment “remains rational, with most deals reflective of targeted price repositioning on select products rather than sweeping price cuts across all SKUs”; and the cost of raw materials will increase.

Tuffy is back!

Tuffy is back!

* Armstrong tires are back! Well, at least medium truck tires. There was good interest in the Armstrong Tire Inc. booth, with old friend Carl Casalbore and new friend Mariam Zafar running the show from Miami, Fla. It was great to see Tuffy (the Rhino) again! By the way, Carl and Mariam are interested in old Armstrong relics.

* The biggest introduction may have been the Delinte S8 Desert Storm II, a new powerline from Sentury Tire Americas. The performance SUV tire is being produced in 84 sizes at the Qingdao Sentury Tire Co. Ltd. plant in Thailand (so no tariffs!).

* In a SEMA Show story about the hot rod culture going overseas, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reminded us that China is the largest market in the world for automobile sales. In 2015, 17 million cars and light trucks were sold in the U.S.; in China, sales totaled 24 million. Not surprisingly, there is a SEMA China organization.

* Falken Tire Corp. celebrated with its dealers at an after-show party on Nov. 3. That was the same night the now classic seventh game of the World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians was played. As the official tire of Major League Baseball, the partygoers were able to enjoy Falken tire signage behind home plate. I wonder if Falken can write off the gathering as an activation of its sports sponsorship?

* TravelCenters of America LLC announced it formed the TA Truck Service Commercial Tire Network. With 243 locations, it is the largest independent commercial tire dealer in the U.S. TravelCenters sells Goodyear, BFGoodrich, Cooper (Roadmaster), Yokohama, and Continental tires, and will soon add Pirelli tires to the mix in limited areas. The company also is seriously looking at adding retreading to its list of services.

Here's proof positive that I was at the show until the very end!

Here's proof positive that I was at the show until the very end!

I was at the show to the very end, as evidenced by the photo of me holding up a newspaper dated Nov. 4 and a watch (no, I wasn’t kidnapped). Although the show ended at 4 p.m., note my watch says 7 p.m., which is Eastern Standard Time. I didn’t change the time when I traveled so I wouldn’t have to change back when I got home.

I thought that was a smart idea (I saved 8 seconds of my life!) until I returned home on Nov. 5. That night, I had to turn my watch back an hour because Daylight Savings Time ended at midnight.

Author

Bob Ulrich
Bob Ulrich

Editor, Retired

Editor Bob Ulrich has earned a reputation as an industry expert thanks to his insightful, in-depth articles and blogs on the tire industry. Before joining Modern Tire Dealer in 1985, Bob earned a B.A. in English literature from Ohio Northern University. Also, he graduated from the University of Akron School of Law with a J.D.

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Editor Bob Ulrich has earned a reputation as an industry expert thanks to his insightful, in-depth articles and blogs on the tire industry. Before joining Modern Tire Dealer in 1985, Bob earned a B.A. in English literature from Ohio Northern University. Also, he graduated from the University of Akron School of Law with a J.D.

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