Michelin Exec Discusses MRT Network Expansion, TCi Sell-Offs
Michelin North America Inc. – which has 77 franchised Michelin Retread Technology (MRT) plants and 80 licensed Oliver retread plants throughout the United States and Canada – continues to expand its product portfolio and add to its network.
This past October, Michelin rolled out its most fuel-efficient tire for long-haul applications and followed that last month with the introduction two products: one for regional and urban delivery applications and another for line-haul trailers. And the company recently added Denray Tire, a longtime, Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Michelin truck tire customer, as an MRT retreader.
In this interview, Karl Remec, business model leader, North American region, Michelin, discusses opportunities to add more retreaders, plus other topics.
MTD: What’s your take on the current state of the retread market as we prepare to enter the second quarter of the year?
Remec: Thus far this year, the U.S./Canadian retread market is a little softer than we had expected. The Canadian retread market is feeling a stronger negative impact from low-priced, imported new Asian tires.
MTD: What trends did you observe during the first quarter of 2020 and how did they impact Michelin’s retread business?
Remec: U.S./Canadian fleet customers continue to recognize the economic and environmental benefits of retreading. Smaller fleets and owner-operators do not embrace retreading to the same degree. The cap and casing market is under pressure from low-priced, Asian imports.
MTD: Michelin added another retreader, Denray Tire, to its network this past December. How many retreaders currently comprise Michelin’s network?
Remec: There are 77 franchised Michelin Retread Technology (MRT) plants and 80 licensed Oliver retread plants across North America.
MTD: Are you planning to sign more retreaders in 2020? Are there geographic whitespaces that you want to fill, and if so, where are they?
Remec: We constantly strive to be the best service-providing retread network to the North American commercial transportation market. Our current geographic footprint allows us to do that and we are always evaluating opportunities to improve our level of service to the North American fleet customer.
MTD: Are you satisfied with your network coverage at present?
Remec: Our current geographic footprint allows us to provide coast-to-coast coverage for the North American commercial transportation market. Our Oliver and MRT retread networks continue to evolve to better serve both large national and smaller, local fleet customers. We will never stop looking for ways to improve and are always evaluating opportunities to raise our level of service to the North American commercial transportation market.
MTD: Has the divestiture of Tire Centers Inc. (TCi) locations over the past several years changed your retread strategy in any way?
Remec: Our retread strategy is driven by providing the best level of service to fleet customers. Retreading is a critical service we offer towards helping fleets run more economically and sustainably. Our strategy is to continue to support and drive growth through both our Oliver and MRT networks by better serving both national and local fleet customers. Our MRT and Oliver networks are committed to helping their respective fleet customers operate as safely, economically and sustainably as possible.
MTD: What impact – if any – are tariffs and ongoing trade tensions with China having on Michelin’s retread business in the U.S.?
Remec: Tariffs and trade tensions are impacting our business similarly to how they are impacting the wider U.S/Canadian retreading industry.
“Low-priced, Asian new tire imports hurt the North American retread market, particularly the cap and casing portion of the market,” he says.