Sir Lanka-based specialty tire manufacturer Global Rubber Industries (Pvt) Ltd. (GRI) has offices in nine countries and a sales presence in more than 50 countries. That includes the United States, where the company is in the process of expanding its distribution network.
“Currently, we have two distributors in the U.S., covering the northeast and southeast,” GRI CEO Dr. Mahesha Ranasoma recently told MTD. “GRI would like to have regional dealers in each of the states, minimum,” within the next year. In this MTD exclusive, Ranasoma discusses why the U.S. market is important to GRI and elaborates on the company’s Green X Circle initiative, which seeks to build tires “in a sustainable and ethical manner.”
He also discusses GRI’s Green Ex farm tire line, as well as the manufacturer’s plans to extend its environmentally friendly tire technology to additional products. (GRI unveiled an eco-friendly version of its Ultimate XT solid tire this past November.)
MTD: Why is the North American market important to GRI and how is it different than other markets where GRI operates?
Ramasoma: North America’s share of the global farm tire market is assumed to be more than 25%. So, it becomes an important market for all the global farm tire manufacturers, and GRI is no exception. In many ways, the North American market is different compared to other big markets, such as Europe. For example, the U.S. farm tire market is still more of a bias/cross-ply tire market, whereas the European ag tire market is more radial.
MTD: How many tires make up your Green Ex farm tire line? What are their features, benefits and applications?
Ranasoma: Currently, we have 64 SKUs in our agri-radial tire range under the series name Green XLR and 93 SKUs in (our) agri-bias tire range under the series name Green Ex. Furthermore, we are developing 14 to 15 SKUs every month. Applications are mainly tractors, harvesters, row crop machines, sprayers, irrigations machines, haulage equipment, implements, etc.
MTD: GRI recently unveiled an eco-friendly version of its Ultimate XT tire. Is GRI planning to extend its eco-friendly technology to other products?
Ranasoma: We are planning to extend it to our pneumatic range, which is currently at a very initial stage. We have seasoned research and development professionals working on this project.
MTD: How does GRI’s Green X Circle initiative benefit your company, as well as the end users of GRI’s farm tires?
Ranasoma: GRI has devoted much effort to understanding the needs and aspirations of farmers around the world. With this understanding and insight, we embarked on a journey to build the perfect agriculture tires to serve these farmer’s needs. We built a state-of-the art factory in Sri Lanka in 2018 and named the tires we developed (there) for these farmers Green Ex, in keeping with our mission of building these tires in a sustainable and ethical manner.
GRI sources its natural rubber “from smallholder rubber farmers” in Sri Lanka, he notes.
“The Sri Lankan rubber farmer is the first link in the value chain that would ultimately deliver a high-performance agriculture tire to a farmer anywhere in the world."