Don't rock the boat
The Cape Cod area is fertile ground for selling trailer tires, according to Steve Small, director of operations for Cape and Islands Tire Co. with locations in Hyannis, Falmouth, Orleans and Wareham, Mass.
With miles of coastline and the accompanying pricey real estate, “We sell a lot of trailer tires for the area’s boaters and landscapers,” he says.
However elite, his area is not immune to the economic downturn, he notes. “The market is pretty price driven,” he says. “People are looking for a good deal, and brand is not a high priority. That’s why we’re offering the private brand tires, and the products from overseas. The market is OK,” he says, “but it’s not as good as it usually is.”
“There are certain segments within the OE trailer tire industry that are experiencing a downturn,” says Ryan Sung, sales analyst for Tireco Inc. “In particular, the OE recreation and leisure portion of the trailer tire industry has slowed down considerably. The other OE segments, like construction and transportation, have remained fairly steady. Even though the OE recreation and leisure segment remain slow, we expect it to pick back up along with the rest of the tire industry as a whole. The replacement trailer tire market has remained relatively strong.”
Hank Chang, sales and marketing manager for Kenda USA, reports his company is seeing steady business from a mix of customers — longtime customers who have depleted their inventories and are now replenishing their stock, and new accounts. He feels that especially in a down economy, people are looking at not only price, but quality products that last.
“The outlook for trailer tire sales and replacement sales continues to be strong,” says Sung, “and we see a movement into the larger rim sizes (17.5- and 19.5-inch), and strong sales for both bias and radial tires.”
Radial tires are making inroads in the trailer tire market .
“They generally get better mileage, are more durable and resistant to temperature in mixed use, and often wear more evenly,” Sung tells us.
“Bias tires remain a very viable market, particularly in the 8- to 12-inch applications, in which radialization is not an option. Bias tires are also more affordable, and we’ve seen a slight increase in demand for bias tires in the last few months because of this.”
Tireco will soon be offering its Milestar ST235/85R16 10-ply radial trailer tire. “It will offer dealers the ability to sell a tire that offers additional height clearance for specific trailer applications that require it,” says Sung.
Duro Tire and Wheel also is marketing its radial DS-2100 trailer tire, available in sizes from ST175/80R13 through ST235/80R16.
Critical selling points
One of the most important aspects of selling trailer tires is making sure the load limits “take into account the weight of a fully loaded trailer, not just the weight of the trailer itself,” Sung points out.
“I think it’s important to qualify their application and point consumers to an option that gives them a maximum weight buffer. A critical point that many often overlook is that load and speed limit are also of primary importance.
“Lastly,” Sung advises, “make sure your customer leaves with a mounted, properly inflated spare — road hazards are everywhere.” ■
Carlisle: Consolidation won’t affect production
Carlisle Tire & Wheel (CTW) is in the process of consolidating much of its manufacturing into a new 568,000-square-foot facility in Jackson, Tenn. The move won’t affect its tire production, according to President Fred Sutter.
Over the next 18 months, the company will consolidate production and equipment from its Carlisle, Pa., plant; a temporary manufacturing facility in Heflin, Ala.; and “portions” of its operations in China. The Alabama plant was established when Carlisle’s Bowdon, Ga., manufacturing plant burned down late last year.
Carlisle, which manufactures lawn and garden tires up to larger agricultural tires, produces trailer tires in Carlisle and Clinton, Tenn., and China. Sutter says new products, including trailer tires, are in development.