Belle Tire Customers See Value of Retreading at Plant’s Open House
The open house at Belle Tire Distributors Inc.’s retread plant near Cleveland, Ohio, featured tours, food, prizes and a close-up look at the value of retreading.
“We’re proud of our process because we put out quality products,” says Tom Bowman, vice president of Belle Tire’s commercial division. “When we bring prospects and customers to our plant they understand why there’s such a value in retreading.”
He expected about 170 customers to stop in during the course of the open house on Aug. 13 to see Bridgestone’s Bandag process for retreading their tires.
Of all the steps in the retreading process, shearography most often turns prospects into customers, according to Bowman. Shearography is used to inspect tire casings for damage prior to retreading. “It takes out the guessing game; you can see an anomaly in the tire, a belt separation, anything wrong with that tire,” says Bowman.
The shearography machine at the Belle Tire plant is the latest model manufactured by Bandag. “We take pride in technology innovation, and we’re always upgrading our equipment so we have the latest in the plant,” says Bowman.
Belle Tire opened the retread plant in Oakwood Village, a Cleveland suburb, 16 years ago. Business has increased year after year, according to Bowman. The retread plant had two salespeople when the plant opened, now it has five.
“Our business base an d the relationships we’ve built with our customers have grown so much,” says Bowman. “We thank them for their business every day, and we also want to show how much we appreciate them by letting them see our process.”
Sara Schlechter, a technician for the Firelands Local Schools district in South Amherst, Ohio, praised Belle Tire sales representative Tim Leipold. “He’s personal. He knows which direction the customer needs to go to get the best usage out of the tires.”
How Belle Tire’s employees find defects in casings and ensure the tread is bonded to the casing caught the attention of Fritz Grubic, a technician for the Amherst Exempted Village Schools in Amherst. “It’s interesting to see how much care they put into it and the technology and the equipment.”
The plan is to be in Cleveland forever, says Bowman. He credits the plant’s success to its employees. “As you walk around in the tour you can see how in tune these guys are and how knowledgeable they are; these guys know more than anybody out there.”
The Oakwood Village retread plant employs eight people. The building includes a commercial truck center where 24 people are employed. Belle Tire also has a retread plant and a recycling facility for used and scrap tires in Detroit, Mich.
“We have great employees who take pride in what they do every day. They’re turning a worn-out tire into something beautiful, and it goes back out on the highway,” says Bowman. “When our customers come through our plant tours, they see how much love is really put into our product. Really, we’re the artists. We’re putting our signature on the tire when it goes out that door.”
Belle Tire is No. 10 on the Modern Tire Dealer 100. The Allen Park, Mich.-based company has 93 retail and commercial outlets in Michigan and Ohio and plans to open three stores in Indiana in the fall of 2015. ■