Goodyear says it's still making OTR tires, but dealers are feeling the squeeze

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Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. officials say the company is producing OTR tires at its Topeka, Kan., plant, one of the 16 Goodyear facilities that are under strike by the United Steelworkers. But some of Goodyear's OTR tire dealers tell they are having problems getting Goodyear products.

Everett Shrader, who runs Whalen Tire Inc.'s store in Billings, Mont., says he isn't getting anything out of the Topeka plant. (Whalen Tire is based in Butte, Mont.)

But he's used to OTR tires, in general, being in short supply thanks to manufacturing shortages that have plagued the OTR tire segment over the last two years. "OTR tires are hard to get regardless of (what brand) they are," he says.

Shrader has been told that the industry-wide OTR tire supply crunch won’t begin to improve until the end of 2008 or early 2009.

Red Wing, Minn.-based Johnson Tire Service Inc. sells Goodyear OTR tires out of three locations. "We’re having a heck of a time getting product, period," says Johnson Tire owner Bob Exner.

"I was just able to draw six OTR tires out of Topeka, but had to say some prayers and pull some teeth to do it." The tires, he says, were already in the Topeka plant’s warehouse when the strike began.

Exner has had to substitute other brands in certain situations where Goodyear OTR tires haven’t been available.

Goodyear’s largest OTR tire customer, Purcell Tire & Rubber Co., hasn’t received an OTR tire from Goodyear since the Steelworkers first raised their pickets in early October, says Purcell Tire President Al Chicago.

Some of Purcell Tire’s mining customers only use Goodyear brand tires. The dealership is trying to fill the void by offering tires imported from China and Russia, according to Chicago. (Purcell Tire also sells Michelin brand OTR tires, but is only getting tires that Michelin had already allocated, he says.)

A Goodyear spokesman recently told that the strike isn't affecting "Goodyear's ability to serve its customers.

We continue to produce (OTR) tires in Topeka. using salaried associates and temporary workers. We also have implemented improved manufacturing processes to increase production.

"In addition, we have plants in Brazil, Luxembourg and Japan that also produce large OTR tires. We have used some imported tires to supplement Topeka production during the strike to supply our customers."

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