Global connections: focus on specialty tires
Specialty tires add a significant global dimension to a dealers’ inventory. Although there are some domestic producers of specialty tires, namely Specialty Tire of America Inc., which produces bias-ply tires in Pennsylvania and Tennessee, and Maine Industrial Tire LLC, which has manufacturing in Pennsylvania as well as China, much of the product available in the marketplace is made overseas. The factories of many specialty tire manufacturers are in Asia, but tires from Europe make their way to U.S. dealerships, too.
MTD asked several specialty tire manufacturers and importers to provide a snapshot of their operations. Seven executives responded to our questions. They are:
• Hank Chang, industrial manager, American Kenda Rubber Industrial Co. Ltd., which does business as Kenda USA;
• Chris Brackin, vice president of sales, American Omni Trading Co.;
• Carl Casalbore, president, BKT Tires USA Inc.;
• Federico Jimenez, sales and marketing manager, Continental Commercial Specialty Tires, Continental Tires the Americas LLC;
• Adam Brown, product marketing manager, AG/construction, CTP Transportation Products LLC;
• Tom Van Ormer, director of purchasing, East Bay Tire Co.; and
• Randy Tsai, director of marketing and GBC Motorsports, Greenball Corp.
MTD: Where are your plants or the plants you purchase tires from located?
Chang, American Kenda: We have seven plants in Taiwan, China and Vietnam.
Brackin, American Omni: We handle Deestone out of Thailand as our core factory for these types of tires.
Casalbore, BKT: Currently, we have four tire factories and one mold shop that repairs, designs and creates our molds. All five plants are in India in the cities of Aurangabad, Bhiwadi, Chopanki, Bhuj and Dombivali.
Jimenez, Continenental: The commercial specialty tires business unit has six plants — Korbach, Germany; Port Elizabeth, Republic of South Africa; Puchov, Slovakia; Otrokovice, Czech Republic; Colombo, Sri Lanka; and Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.
Brown, CTP Transportation: Carlisle has seven factories globally — Aiken, S.C.; Clinton, Tenn.; Fort Scott, Kan.; Jackson, Tenn.; Ontario, Calif.; Springfield, Mo.; and Meizhou, China.
Van Ormer, East Bay: Presently, we are purchasing specialty tires from five plants for lawn and garden tires and two plants for industrial and skid steer. The plants are located in China, Sri Lanka, Thailand, India and the U.S.
Tsai, Greenball: We currently have four plants that we get industrial, lawn and garden tires from. They are in Indonesia, Thailand, China and India.
MTD: Are there any tariffs on specialty tires exported from any of your overseas plants to the U.S.?
Chang, American Kenda: No tariffs.
Brackin, American Omni: No tariffs.
Casalbore, BKT: Currently all of our products have a 3.7%-4.0% duty imported into the USA.
Jimenez, Continental: No, we have local entities which represent our business unit all over the world, and they commercialized our tires at a competitive price.
Brown, CTP Transportation: There are currently antidumping and countervailing duties imposed by the U.S. Department of Commerce on certain pneumatic off-the-road tires imported into the United States from China.
Van Ormer, East Bay: Right now, we have no tariffs that affect these particular tires.
Tsai, Greenball: China, Thailand, Indonesia and India all have basic duties of 3.4%-4% depending on the category. China has additional antidumping duties on OTR and industrial tire.
MTD: How long does it take you to send container loads of specialty tires from an overseas plant to the U.S.?
Chang, American Kenda: Roughly a month.
Brackin, American Omni: Right now, we are running an average of 82 days; we track this in our system. Keep in mind this can vary depending upon the final destination.
Casalbore, BKT: This is a very broad question; on average, 60-90 days from order date to receiving date at the dealer’s place of business.
Jimenez, Continental: The majority of our tires come from Sri-Lanka, and the average lead time is a little over a month.
Brown, CTP Transportation: The amount of time to ship container loads to the U.S. varies.
Van Ormer, East Bay: Most times 60 to 90 days from date of order.
Tsai, Greenball: Two to five weeks depending on the factory.
MTD: Are you considering building a plant in North America?
Chang, American Kenda: No.
Casalbore, BKT: We have just constructed our newest factory in Bhuj, India. Going forward, we are leaving all options open for production facilities.
Jimenez, Continental: We are considering many locations for our new plants for industrial tires. North America is always a candidate when we look into new plant locations.
Brown, CTP Transportation: Our current plans are to invest in our existing factories rather than building new ones.
Tsai, Greenball: No, not at this time.
MTD: How important is China to your strategy in the U.S.? How about Canada and Mexico?
Chang, American Kenda: China is very important as China still has cheaper labor and workers to hire. Canada and Mexico are not important to our strategy at this moment, especially Canada. We don’t rule out setting up a facility in Mexico, though.
Brackin, American Omni: In this segment, we are mainly outside of China. We have been supplying Deestone and Crop Max for many years, and they continue to support our dealers in the U.S. so we aren’t currently exploring the options from China.
Casalbore, BKT: China is an important market. Relating to the U.S., they are independent from a replacement market. Regarding OE, China is important to all markets with its large manufacturing base and export volume. Regarding Canada and Mexico, replacement is separate with separate replacement divisions. OE Canada and Mexico fall under the U.S., and products move freely between the NAFTA countries.
Jimenez, Continental: China is not managed from the U.S., it is managed from our regional office in Malaysia. We have dedicated resources there. Canada and Mexico are important countries for us. We have dedicated people, warehouses and offices in the field.
Brown, CTP Transportation: We are a global company headquartered in the United States, and we value the potential of each region.
Van Ormer, East Bay: It is only important in the lawn and garden section because Carlisle is producing quite a few of those tires in their China operation. It is not important in the industrial/skid steer portion of our business. All Dawg Pound industrial/skid steer products are built in Sri Lanka, India or the U.S.
Tsai, Greenball: In the past 15 years, China has played very little in our strategy when it came to the specialty tire market. Less than 15% of our supply on specialty and industrial tires has come from China. This is due to mainly two reasons: 1) lack of dependable suppliers in China on lawn and garden products; and 2) antidumping duties on Chinese industrial tires brought to the U.S. In fact, almost all industrial product we source in China is sold in Mexico due to antidumping duties. ■
Standard versus metric system
The manufacturers and importers told MTD the use of the U.S. measurement system rather than the metric system has no impact on specialty tire production, labeling and sales.
“Press-on industrials are often dual marked, but it has not been a problem in any facet of the business to this time,” says Tom Van Ormer, director of purchasing for East Bay Tire Co.
“Sizing between manufacturers varies a great deal more in this market than, say, truck tires or ag tires, so some hard lessons have been learned from assuming, for example, every manufacturer’s 10-16.5 will be the same height or width.”