The climate is right for specialty tires: Radial trailer tires are especially hot; size 225/75R15 dominates
Suddenly specialty tires really are special. Just ask Ron Brutt, owner of Brutt Specialty Tires, a 30-year-old wholesale dealership based in McKees Rocks, Pa.
"The trend this year, unfortunately, is a complete lack of capacity of product here in the U.S. So there is a bigger demand for offshore lawn and garden, trailer and ATV tires."
However, in the last 18 to 24 months, the time it takes to get product from overseas has quadrupled because of the security measures that are being taken at the port of entry because of 9/11 and by Homeland Security, according to Brutt.
Brutt Specialty Tires offers Carlisle, Titan and Towmaster boat, recreational and utility trailer tires; Goodyear, Titan, Firestone and Cheng Shin lawn and garden tires; and Goodyear, Titan and GBC Motorsports ATV tires.
Hot: radial trailer tires
Both Brutt and fellow wholesaler Joe Gerardi, sales manager for Future Tire in Old Beth Page, N.Y., agree that radials are taking over the large trailer tire market. Gerardi describes it as a hot market for him.
"Once you get past 13-inch tires, it is not productive to by bias when you can get a radial for a couple of dollars more. Customers are swinging more toward radial."
Gerardi also is noticing "the season is not singularly summer anymore. It now seems we see a lot of use of landscape, utility trailers year round.
"And you can make money on the specialty tires. You have to, because you can´t make money on passenger tires!"
Future Tire, which sells Duro, Deestone, Titan, Nankang and Bridgestone/Firestone specialty tires, doesn´t sell many ATV tires. "There´s not much call for it here in our suburban area," says Gerardi. "There´s not much demand for mud tires on asphalt! But you sell one for sand, and I´ll sell a lot of them on Long Island!"
One of Gerardi´s customers, Robert McGuinness, owner of County Tires Inc. in Lindenhurst, Long Island, N.Y., says radial trailer tires are popular because many trailers are being equipped with radials as original equipment. And with the small difference in price between radials and bias tires, customers are choosing radials at replacement time because of the increased durability.
According to McGuinness, the most popular radial trailer sizes are 205/75R14 ST and 225/75R15 ST.
With all the water around his area, boat trailers are plentiful, as are landscape trailers used by the people in the lawn care business.
"We sell anything we can get. We rely on our wholesaler," says McGuinness, who offers Titan, Duro, Dico and Carlisle.
His company also does a lot of work with local municipalities to replace and repair lawn and garden tires. For instance, he works with local school districts and hospitals that have a lot of little lawn mowers for their landscape crews.
"It it´s round and it rolls, we service it," says McGuinness.
Bill Casey, president of Mid-State Tire Co. in Lancaster, Ohio, says the markup on trailer tires "is better than on a car tire." His busiest months are May and June, when the boats start coming out in force and the camping season starts. He sells the Kenda line.
"I sell very few non-radials. I encourage radials. Bias tires are just too easy to penetrate and go flat. Radials have less rolling resistance and give a smoother ride."
Casey says he doesn´t spend a lot of money on advertising. "Most of it is word-of-mouth." He sends out flyers with the help of a mailing list he purchased. "That´s the most effective way I´ve seen to get the word out."
Around the horn
Many niche specialty tire manufacturers and marketers have been busy of late.
Carlisle Tire & Wheel Co. Carlisle Companies Inc., parent company of Carlisle Tire & Wheel Co., has purchased Bowden, Ga.-based Trintex Corp., a lawn and garden and industrial tire manufacturer. "Trintex is a good addition to our portfolio as it extends our product line offering," says Carlisle CEO and President Richard McKinnish. Trintex´s annual revenue is $33 million, according to Carlisle officials.
Carlisle also recently introduced its new six-ply Carlisle ACT (for All Conditions Tire). It is designed for the ATV market. It is the third radial ATV tire, along with the Badlands XTR and S-Trac, produced by Carlisle Tire & Rubber Co. "Radials are starting to come more and more into play in ATV tires," says Jeff Waechter, director of aftermarket sales.
Duro Tire and Wheel. Duro recently introduced its first radial trailer tire, the DS2100. "We saw the ratio growing for radials in the trailer tire market," says Patrick D´Auria, the company´s marketing manager.
"We have a great reputation on our bias tires, so we wanted to expand on our success. We saw what our competitors were doing, and we wanted to keep up with them and the demand from our customers."
The DS2100 has been on the market for a couple of months and has been well received due to its durability and attractive tread, says D´Auria. It is used on horse trailers, boat trailers, landscape trailers and the like, with the most popular sizes being the eight-ply ST 225/75R15 and 205/75R15.
The company also is promoting two specialty tires that combine a couple of characteristics not often incorporated into the same tire. Its new lawn and garden tire blends more rounded shoulders with an aggressive tread.
The X-Country ATV tire has a knobby tread but is designed to deliver a smooth ride "because the knobs are close together." D´Auria says the X-Country´s most popular sizes are 25x10-12 and 25x8-12.
Goodtime Investments Ltd. The new V-7582 trailer tire is manufactured at the company´s ISO 9001 Vietnamese facility in four sizes: 4.80-8, 4.00-10, 4.50-10 and 5.00-10.
Greenball Corp. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. recently produced and delivered the one millionth Towmaster Radial ST private brand trailer tire to Greenball. The companies have shared a business relationship since 1996.
Goodyear manufactures six sizes of the Towmaster Radial ST line. Greenball sells bias Towmaster tires manufactured by Cheng Shin Rubber Industry Co. Ltd. In addition to Towmaster, Greenball offers its HiwayMaster private brand tire.
Kenda USA. "I see more and more people using radial trailer tires, which we have in large sizes and smaller 12-inch sizes," says Hank Chang, radial tire marketing and product manager. Kenda will introduce a new ATV tire in 2005.
Maxxis International. A new ATV tire, the Irazr, is available in sizes 21x7x10 (front) and 20x11x9 (rear).
Tireco Inc. Tireco has several new products. On the lawn and garden side, its Super Lug is available in sizes 6-14, 7-14, 7-16, 6.00-12, 13x500-6 and others. Tireco´s new Mudmax ATV tire comes in heavy-duty sizes including 25x8-12, 25x10-12, 26x10-12, 26x12-12 and 27x10-12