Triangle Makes a Statement: Sources say U.S. Plant is One Step Closer to Reality
Chinese tire manufacturer Triangle Tyre Co. Ltd. has taken the next step toward building its first tire factory outside of China.
The company held a formal signing ceremony with the Shandong branch of the Export-Import Bank of China in June at its Global Brand Summit. In effect, this strategic agreement allows Triangle to invest funds outside of China, something that would be necessary for the building of a plant.
Well-placed sources are telling MTD that the plant will be built in the U.S. and a formal announcement is forthcoming yet this year.
The company currently operates four factories in China. Current total production of tires is roughly 25 million units per year. Last year, Chairman Yuhua Ding said the company wanted total production of 30 million units within five years.
During his speech at its Global Brand Summit, Ding discussed the strategy to growing and working on a global basis. “In the process of global brand construction, we need:
1. To position the manufacturing model properly to upgrade the old model.
2. To speed up and take full use of the science and technology research.
3. To improve the market supply and customer service.
4. To establish and develop the company culture and market culture on global brand development.”
More than 500 attendees from 100 countries were at the day-long event. A theme that developed early during the conference came from Chinese government officials who spoke of wanting to transfer from a “China manufactured” to a “China created” mentality.
Triangle is intent on global brand building and has been in the process of building teams throughout the world. Six of the regions are controlled directly by the company, while North America stands alone as a separate sales and distribution company, established in 2015.The company is undergoing an overhaul of its product portfolio, concentrating on new products and “making tire names that are understandable”, according to Wayne Foster, Chief Marketing Officer for the Triangle Group. This year the company has been consolidating and renaming its passenger tire line-up under the Advantex, Performex, Sportx, Milex and Tourex banners.
Foster said the reason for the renaming is to help retailers position Triangle tires easily with the consumer. He believes that tires using combination names with letters and numbers doesn’t work.
Foster said Triangle’s research shows that worldwide, 70% of all tire purchases are made at the recommendation by the tire retailer.
Foster added that the renaming process will continue to its light truck line during 2018 under the AdvantexSUV, PerformexSUV, AgilxAT and GripxMT names.
Rick Phillips, vice president of sales for Triangle Tire USA, outlined the company’s growth strategy, which includes a brand-building campaign to dealers and distributors to help them promote Triangle to the consumer. He said the campaign revolves around Triangle’s world class products, great support team and its efficient delivery to the market.
Phillips said the focus on independent dealers is due to the fact that in the U.S., they influence the tire purchase 85% of the time. He also noted that the U.S. GDP in 2016 was $18.5 trillion and the U.S. population now stands at 326 million, or 4.5% of the global population.
It is still the largest market for tires in the world, Phillips said. MTD statistics were used to show 205 million replacement passenger tires and 31 million replacement LT tires were shipped in 2016.
Phillips said projections are for passenger tires to be down 1.7% in 2017 while LT tires will be up 7%.
On the truck tire side, replacement tires were up 2.2% to 18.4 million units, but OE shipments dropped 14.2 % to 5.4 million units.Manny Cicero, CEO of Triangle Tire USA, said the company’s distribution plans in the U.S. are progressing nicely. “We specifically set out a goal to sign on with only those distributors or servicing commercial dealers who would partner with us in growing the Triangle brand. That is a slower process than signing and selling to anyone who will buy.
“Today we have coverage in the Northeast, South Central, Midwest and Southwest United States. We are actively seeking additional partners in open areas and, to that purpose, we have added additional outside sales professionals to our team recently.”
With Triangle’s new 53,000-square-foot warehouse in Madison, Tenn., up and running, the company has begun looking for the next warehouse location, he added. ■
How Triangle Tyre Co. views other tire markets
Triangle Tyre’s management makes it clear that the company wants to be known as a world-class player in the tire industry with high quality products in all segments of the market.
Here’s a look at how Triangle’s Tony Nobilo, Executive VP and GM of International Sales, views the world tire markets, region-by-region.
Europe: It is a 300 million tire market with a very wide variety of languages, cultures and consumer behavior, not to mention temperature and road conditions that are extremely diverse. He considers this region to have the most advanced tire regulations.
Nobilo also feels that Europe has the most premium and prestigious car manufacturers in the world. Imported tires now make up 32% of the total replacement market for PLT tires with imports standing at 25% of the TBR replacement market. Imported OTR replacement tires are at 48%.
Russian and the CIS region: It is a 54 million tire market that is highly dependent of the price of oil. Nobilo believes there is high volatility of the Ruble versus the US Dollar which makes for a very high credit risk. There are import duties for Chinese produced tires but it is a very important region for the sales and development of OTR tires.
Winter tires, mainly studdable, are an important part of the PCR segment.
Middle East and Africa: It is a 118 million tire market under which tires operate in very hostile conditions. The Middle East has extremely high temperatures while African roads are over 50% unpaved, combined with overloading and poor operating conditions. Like Europe, the region is very diverse, with Africa comprising 54 different markets with different languages, economic and political conditions.Southeast Asia (ASEAN) and Indian Subcontinent: The ASEAN market is 55 million tires while India has a market size of 47 million units. Nobilo points out there is a large automotive manufacturing base and anti-dumping regulations are very prevalent. The ASEAN segment is OE driven with over 50% of replacement sales driven by OE preference, coupled with a high branded retail environment. In India, Nobilo notes there is a poor road infrastructure along with similar road conditions. Severe overloading of vehicles compound the abuse tires take in that region.
Australia and New Zealand: It is a 23 million tire market with miles driven per capita being one of the highest in the world due to the large land mass. The region has one of the highest rates of vehicle ownership with the SUV/LT market being the fastest growing segment of the PCR market, now standing at over 50%. Interestingly, Nobilo notes that there are no tires manufactured in either country. (Bridgestone closed its last tire plant in Australia in 2010, with its last plant in New Zealand closing the year prior.) The Australian market has a very large truck tires segment due to its heavy reliance of road transportation.
Latin America: It is a 83 million tire market serving 36 countries mostly underdeveloped or in early development stages. Anti-dumping regulations are prevalent, particularly in Brazil and Columbia. Due to its geographic size, the road conditions and climate are widely varied.