Lord of the rings
And then there was one. The purchase of Bandag Inc. by Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. in June 2007 has left Marangoni Tread North America Inc. as the only major independent tire retread system supplier in the United States and Canada.
All the rest are owned by major tire manufacturers. Michelin North America Inc., in addition to its own Pre-Mold and Custom-Mold systems, bought Oliver Rubber Co. from Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. last October. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. runs or sells its own Unicircle, precure and mold cure systems.
Marangoni and its Verona, Italy-based parent, Marangoni SpA, are leveraging that differentiation both here and abroad. Company executives, including Marge Connors, marketing and communications manager for North America, outlined their plans to a select group of magazine editors last year. Modern Tire Dealer was represented.
During a tour of Marangoni’s Ferentino, Italy, facilities, the improvements in the Ringtread spliceless tread manufacturing process and other new technology was showcased.
Background: 25 and counting
Marangoni North America holds 2.5% of the truck tire retreading market in the United States (see page 32). There are 25 Ringtread retreaders in the U.S., the latest Parmenter Inc. in Odessa, N.Y.
According to Connors, Marangoni North America is attempting to grow by “rational distribution.”
“We recognize the U.S. market to be about 40 commercial markets, which would require approximately 40 to 50 production plants to service the current demand for 15 million retreads annually,” she says. “We are targeting current ‘open markets’ in the U.S. where we do not have a Ringtread dealer or commercial location available to serve the fleet customer.
“Our goal is to earn 10% market share in the markets we serve with our independent dealer network.”
From 80% to 85% of the Ringtread rubber used by domestic Marangoni dealers is manufactured at the company’s Madison, Tenn., facility, one of 10 Marangoni SpA has worldwide. The remaining 20% to 15% of the rubber (for 19- and 17-inch treads) is made in Italy and Brazil.
Core business: retreading
Retreading systems account for 37% of Marangoni SpA’s sales, which totaled 340 million euros ($450 million) in 2006. Retread-related activities, including retreading its own commercial and industrial tires and the sale of retread machinery, make up more than 60%.
Marangoni also owns 50 retail shops in Italy, and sells Marangoni-brand passenger, light truck, commercial and industrial tires in addition to truck tire retreads.
According to CEO Massimo De Alessandri, global expansion is a necessity, with the most potential in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economies. He says BRIC accounts for more than 50% of the world’s truck tire production.
Established markets in Europe, North America and South America also are being targeted.
Does Marangoni’s goal of “global expansion to take advantage of new markets’ potential and of the truck tire industry change process” include selling new tires in the U.S.?
Not necessarily, says Connors. “It is addressing Marangoni's commitment to being an industry leader and building market share throughout the world.
“First through new markets: We still have great growth potential to actualize in the Americas, plus the potential in developing nations around the world. The new markets around the world will benefit from Marangoni's expertise in advanced technology and enhanced products in tires and retreading.
“Second, ‘changes in the truck tire industry’ refers to the developing nations. The continued radialization of tires in developing nations will increase the demand for retreading and retreading technology.
“Marangoni has existing strategies in place for Asia, Africa and the rest of the world,” she says. “For example, Marangoni has been doing business in China since the 1980s and has recently opened an office in Shanghai to be one step ahead of potentially the second largest retread market in the world.”
Marangoni sells OTR tire retreading equipment in the U.S., but not OTR tread rubber at this point.
New technologies: Alpha Ring
“We update equipment every five or six years, no more,” says Nicola Rabuffo, Ferentino plant manager. “Every year we improve something.”
Marangoni’s latest technology, the patented Alpha Ring System, was on display at the plant, which is both ISO 9001:2000 (Quality Management System) and ISO 14001 (Environmental Management System) certified.
It is part of the company’s RMS (Ring Modular System) project, which was undertaken to improve the efficiency of the production cycle and reduce energy and resource consumption. The result, according to Marangoni, is improved product quality and a reduction in the environmental impact of the Ringtread process.
Ringtread is a spliceless, contoured tread designed to match the shape of a new tire. Alpha Ring helps automate its production through the packaging process, and eliminates some of the traditional steps from extrusion to curing.
The way Marangoni describes it, even if the operator at each station enters or modifies the programming data, “a general IT system program controls each step of the ring production on a continuous basis, ensuring stable product quality as well as a precise and immediate view of stocks on hand.”
A new cap and base ring is next on the agenda. “The goal is high mileage without loss in rolling resistance and without loss of casing durability,” says Rabuffo.