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New products perk up specialty, industrial tire market

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New products perk up specialty, industrial tire market

In a tight economy, everyone treads carefully, from consumers up through suppliers. Everyone is looking for the best value for the buck.

Randy Tsai, Greenball Corp.’s director of GBC motorsports, has some advice for dealers: “Everyone is pinching pennies, but watch what you’re buying. You get what you pay for. You put two tires side by side, and if one’s cheaper than the other, there’s definitely a reason. You need to know what that reason is.

“The real goal is obtaining quality products. We’re very selective about whom we deal with, and it’s not always the cheapest supplier.”

To make sure you’re getting a quality product, Tsai says tire dealers should recognize the brand name, make sure that there’s a warranty, and buy from a known supplier that has an established, physical address.

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For the specialty and industrial tire market, “Overall, 2008 will be an interesting year,” says David Fleischhauer, Trelleborg Wheel Systems Americas’ director of marketing.

“We will see more global consolidation and a more globalized economy. Companies will continue to be globally focused.”

Jerry Peters, sales manager and buyer for the Pit Bull Tire Co., has seen some shortages in various sizes of pneumatic industrial tires. However, supply has been boosted by the availability of imported tires. He feels the industry has been “hanging in there,” and the outlook is very good.

Certain segments of the industrial and specialty tire markets are taking off. Here are a few prime examples.

‘White hot’ market

Although those involved in one of the hottest markets around can’t decide on terminology, the UTV market is “white hot,” according to ATV Magazine.

Whether it’s “utility task vehicles” or “utility terrain vehicles,” UTV sales are ablaze and getting hotter. The vehicles are used for transportation on construction sites and farms, for off-roading and racing, and for just puttering around retirement communities. ATV Magazine calls it the fastest-growing segment of the powersports segment.

The vehicles are characterized by their seating capacity — which is two across — and they all use a steering wheel and foot pedals instead of handlebars and a thumb throttle and brake handles, the magazine reports.

UTVs, which typically cost as much as some passenger vehicles ($10,000 - $20,000), usually use two different sized tires, such as 26x8-12 PXT on the front, 26x11-12 PXT on the rear. Most are in the 25- to 27-inch range on 12- or 14-inch rims.

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For the UTVs used in retirement communities in places like Florida and Arizona, people are requesting DOT-approved tires so they can be legal on the roads, says Tsai.

“Retirement communities are allowing these vehicles on the roads, so customers need street-legal tires for their UTVs. But people need to do their homework to make sure of the tire’s abilities and ratings. They will turn to tire dealerships where they buy tires for their cars to get advice on purchasing the correct tires for their UTVs,” according to Tsai.

“In these retirement communities, most of the people have one car and one UTV. This is big business.”

A niche within a niche

The radial pneumatic industrial tire segment is a niche within a niche.

Trelleborg Wheel Systems Americas came out with a radial industrial pneumatic tire in January 2007, the TR-900. The company felt that the radial industrial tire market was a growing niche and wanted a presence in it, says Fleischhauer.

The TR-900 is designed to withstand industrial application stresses better than its bias counterparts. “Radial tire advantages include longevity in many different applications,” says Fleischhauer. Successfully marketing them “is a matter of knowing your customers and knowing their businesses and their needs.”

Radials currently make up 20% of the industrial pneumatic tire market, he says. “As in the passenger and truck tire segments, radialization is a revolution that will build over time.” Radial tire benefits also include longer runs for the tire and less heat build-up. “And heat build up is a common problem for many of our customers,” Fleischhauer notes. “There also is better puncture resistance for certain applications (compared to bias ply pneumatic tires).”

The company offers a wide range of sizes that fit standard forklifts — from nine to 20 inches. Trelleborg plans to expand the range of sizes by the end of 2008 or early 2009.

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“For a manufacturer/supplier, we will need to differentiate ourselves to be successful. Industrial tires tend to be seen as commodity-type tires. That’s where our radial tire technology comes in — that, and our unique compounds for our solid rubber press-on industrial tires,” says Fleischhauer.

“We differentiate ourselves by our compounding. We put a lot of effort into our research and development of new compounds for the industrial tire market.”

Keeping track of the track market

Bullman Products’ Semi-Pneumatic flat-proof tires are designed to work with the company’s over-the-tire tracks.

The tire tracks shield tires from large debris and major cuts to prolong tire life. They have a self-cleaning design and are easy to install, says Bullman.

The track’s hexagon-shaped bar design offers both wet and dry traction. “Bullman skid steer tracks lower the center of gravity of the machine resulting in greater stability, reduced bouncing and a much smoother ride,” says Robin Holmes, business development for Bullman. “The special hexagon pattern on the sidebars helps the operator stay on track even when working on tricky side hill jobs.”

Bullman tracks are made from heat-treated steel and are 100% rebuildable with extra links or sections, resulting in reduced operating cost.

Bullman tracks are available to fit a wide range of equipment makes and models.

“Our products are easy to install by end-users, however, many of our dealers provide installation service for customer convenience.”

Other offerings

Denman Tire Corp. is offering the new Denman X-Treme Hard Trax tire. It has a non-directional tread designed for multi-purpose usage on skid steer, backhoe and arial lifts.

A low rubber-to-void ratio provides extended wear in hard surface applications. It is available in sizes 10-16.5 and 12-16.5.

In addition to its radial pneumatic industrial tire, Trelleborg will be adding to its Monarch line with the new M2, a resilient tire that will hit the market late this year. It will be available in sizes up to 20 inches and is geared for material handling equipment at ports, warehouses, etc.

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