MTD exclusive! Falken discusses plans for Ohtsu
Falken Tire Corp. will return to the medium truck tire arena this March when it takes over distribution of the Ohtsu truck tire brand in North America from Itochu International.
This marks the second time that Falken will enjoy exclusive rights to Ohtsu. The Fontana, Calif.-based company, a subsidiary of Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. (SRI), distributed the brand until early 2005, when SRI transferred control to Itochu.
The switch back to Falken is happening at the perfect time, despite the depressed state of the North American truck tire market, Falken President Richard Smallwood recently told www.moderntiredealer.com. "I'd rather get in when the market's in a horrible situation because it lets me look at things in the worst case scenario. In this kind of situation, you can't be sloppy. You have to have your game down very well."
Falken will initially offer 14 already-existing Ohtsu tread designs. "We're not adding anything new until July, when we're targeted to launch a SmartWay-approved product," says Smallwood.
The new tire will bear the Falken name instead of Ohtsu -- a sign of things to come. "We will gravitate toward everything being Falken brand" eventually, he explains. Ohtsu brand truck tires are only sold in the U.S. "It's Falken everywhere else in the world."
Falken also will change Ohtsu's distribution model. Ohtsu currently is a container-only program. By June, Ohtsu tires will be available through all four of Falken's U.S. distribution centers: Fontana, Irving, Texas; Dayton, N.J.; and Juliet, Tenn.