This was the view when attendees walked into the Las Vegas Convention Center's South Hall, home of the Global Tire Expo.

This was the view when attendees walked into the Las Vegas Convention Center's South Hall, home of the Global Tire Expo.

My final Global Tire Expo (GTE) blog of the week, my fifth in five days, is filled with a few odds and ends from the show.

It is also my final GTE blog, because this was my last time attending the SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) Show. I am retiring in January after more than 34 years at Modern Tire Dealer.

Tire Industry Association CEO Roy Littlefield already has threatened to invite me back next year as part of the association's 100th anniversary celebration, so I guess it's possible you may see me in Las Vegas again. It all depends on how negotiations go for the first-class plane ticket and on-call limousine service. Oh, and tickets to a Backstreet Boys concert if the group is in town.

I have been planning my retirement for a few years now, and as it gets closer, I am pretty stoked about the possibilities for binging on Hulu. It also is bittersweet, but my publisher, Greg Smith, has already hired Mike Manges as my replacement, so there is no turning back.

* When Andrew Hoit joined Tireco Inc. as vice president of sales and marketing in 2016, I sat down with him at the show to find out what his plans were. Before he joined, Tireco was a notoriously private and conservative company.

He believed it was time for the company to "step out of the shadows," and announced five Milestar tires would be introduced in the U.S. in 2017. "The Milestar is now our flagship brand,” says Hoit. “That’s the primary focus of our branding.”

Three years later, there are no shadows. Milestar's light truck and SUV tire lineup is particularly strong. In the second half of 2020, Hoit also is planning to introduce an autocross/drift tire for both the Milestar and Westlake brands. And he is working on an entry into the Sport LT tire segment, with sizes ranging from 20 to 26 inches. When finalized, the lineup will include the popular 275/55R20 size.

Since I am already working on brand share numbers for the January 2020 Facts Issue, I can safely say Milestar has never been closer to making the list.

* I ran into Mike Van Sicklen at the Hunter Engineering Co. booth. You may remember him as director of business development in North America for Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations LLC back in the John Gamauf days. Now he is category manager for fast lubes at Jiffy Lube International Inc., a somewhat similar position.

Van Sicklen joined what was then known as Bridgestone North America Inc. in 1990 and left the company in 2010.

* Nexen Tire America Inc. describes its new Roadian GTX as a "CUV/SUV grand touring all-season" tire. Sales Executive Vice President John Hagan said in 2020, the company will heavily promote not only the Roadian GTX, but also the Roadian MTX. Nexen successfully introduced the Roadian MTX into the market last year.

Samantha Maloy, right, from Blackburn OEM Wheel Solutions, talks with Robert Tarr, left, and Heath Hobgood from Texas Body & Frame in Lubbock, Texas.

Samantha Maloy, right, from Blackburn OEM Wheel Solutions, talks with Robert Tarr, left, and Heath Hobgood from Texas Body & Frame in Lubbock, Texas.

* Blackburn OEM Wheel Solutions was a first-time exhibitor at the SEMA Show. Longtime friend Todd Deranek, director of sales and marketing, and Samantha Maloy, account support manager, helped man the booth, which was located in a tent to the south of the convention center. Tire dealers and collision repair people found them anyway.

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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