DLS Retreading and Continental: A ‘force multiplied’
DLS Retreading Inc. opened the doors of the first all-new ContiTread licensed truck tire retreading facility in the United States last month.
The 16,000-square-foot retreading shop in Fort Mill, S.C., is part of a 72,000-square-foot commercial building and will not only produce and sell Continental ContiTread flat precure retreaded truck tires, but also offer new Continental and General truck tires. The facility has 11 service docks.
Vice President and General Manager Scott Snyder, a 25-year veteran of the truck tire and retreading industry, says the new facility could not have been created without the partnership of Continental Tire the Americas LLC’s Commercial Vehicle Tire business unit.
“We have truly worked together as a team, and what makes this most intriguing is that Continental has taken a year to work with our family, providing resources and capital, to make sure that we could get into this market successfully.”
Continental made a commitment to DLS Retreading to provide the engineering, marketing and sales support needed to succeed in South Carolina, which is one of the fastest-growing economies in the southeast U.S., says Paul Williams, Continental’s executive vice president for truck tires. South Carolina was ranked tied for second highest real gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate in the region for 2012, according to a June news release by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.
“We’ve been committed to help DLS Retreading with this new venture from the beginning, not only because they are close to our headquarters in Fort Mill, but more importantly, because they understand the benefits of providing retreads that meet the needs of the market with the same performance and designs as the new tires,” says Williams.
That proximity to Continental’s HQ (about four miles) has created a synergy, says Williams. “We’re a force multiplied.” The plant also will be used as a training facility for new employees as well as a showcase for potential ContiTread licensees.
Snyder started his new business by buying an empty warehouse. DLS Retreading, the first of Continental’s licensees in the U.S. to build a retread facility instead of switching processes in an existing plant, is the result.
“Paul knew I was intrigued with the retreading industry,” says Snyder. “I started talking with him about a year ago to see if there were any opportunities in the market for someone like me. And here we are, one year later.”
Throughout his career, Snyder has had extensive experience with two other retreading processes, Bandag and Michelin Americas Truck Retread Technologies (MRT). Snyder had worked for Berlin Tire, Tire Centers Inc. (TCi), which was purchased by Michelin North America Inc. in 1999, and Snider Tire Inc. “This venture is a good opportunity — the right place at the right time.”
The building is wholly owned by DLS Retreading. Continental provided help with the design and layout of the retread facility, which currently takes up about a quarter of the building’s floor space.
“Plant conversions take about two weeks,” Williams explains. “This building was an empty warehouse — a clean sheet of paper, so to speak. The whole process took a lot of time, but once we got all the permits in order, everything happened very quickly.”
Snyder signed the ContiTread franchise agreement in May, and the company has moved from zero tires on June 1 to building 60 tires per day with one curing chamber. “The Continental staff was here the whole time,” Snyder says. “They were very instrumental in getting it up and running.”
Here are some facts about the DLS Retreading facility and its location:
* It is located in Lancaster County, S.C.
* It represents an investment of $2.5 million in capital and equipment.
* DLS Retreading received economic incentives from Lancaster County for a five-year period beginning in 2013. “The state was good to us. There were motivations for us to be where we are,” Snyder says.
* The retread shop currently has one inspection station, shearography, one buffing machine, two tire repair stations, one tire builder, one curing chamber and Matteuzi G100 inflation testing equipment for final inspection. When fully mature, the shop will have the capacity to produce 300 retreaded truck tires per day with three curing chambers.
“Growth depends on the amount of fleet business we sign on,” says Snyder. “At the end of 12 months, we should be doing about 150 tires a day. Employees will be added incrementally as needed for the retread process. We currently have six in the retread shop, and a total of 13 employees. At the end of year, we should have 50-plus employees.”
Continental has nine ContiTread retread facilities in the U.S. The company recently opened its first shop in Canada. It has 10 in Mexico, three in Ecuador and a couple in Brazil. It plans to open another two to three more in the U.S. over the course of this year.
Williams’ goal is to sell one retread for every new Continental or General truck tire sold. He also wants an 8% to 10% share of the U.S. retread market; he estimates Continental has a 1.5% share, twice what it was just one year ago.
“Continental is a top tier truck tire, and everyone wants to try their solution of new tires with matching retreads,” says Snyder. “Now we’re here to help prove to these local fleets, with Continental’s support, that Continental is an excellent choice for their life cycle needs.” ■