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Alive and producing

Retreading is picking up. That’s the only logical conclusion that can be made based on responses from many of the top retreaders in the United States.

When asked, “What are your retreading plans for 2010?” retreaders responded with a sense of optimism, not urgency.

“Wingfoot’s plans are to increase the units-per-day efficiencies of our plants through upgrades or replacement of production equipment; renovation or modernization of existing plants; and any other actions as necessary to meet the current or projected needs of our customers,” said a company spokesman.

Wingfoot Commercial Tire Systems LLC, a subsidiary of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., is ranked number one on Modern Tire Dealer’s “Top 100 Retreaders” list (based on full-year 2009 data). Wingfoot operates 50 plants, and, according to the spokesman, new plants are a possibility.

In 2009, the average Wingfoot facility operated approximately 273 days a year, or 5.25 days a week, and retreaded 122 truck tires and eight light truck tires a day.

Adding equipment and/or capacity

Shane Wilks, president of Wilks Treading Inc. in Albertville, Ala., says his first quarter numbers are up 35% compared to the same period last year. His Goodyear precure plant retreaded 95 truck tires a day in 2009.

Wilks recently added the Goodyear Unicircle process, plus an employee.

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“We are trying to get to 125 per day a few days a week, and have a huge backlog currently, and that is good,” he says. Frasier Tire Service in Sumter, S.C., also plans to incorporate the Unicircle process into his operation.

A number of retreaders are adding builders, including Royal Tire Inc. (42nd on our list) in St. Cloud, Minn.; Looney’s Tire Service (54th) in Little Rock, Ark.; Maine Commercial Tire (77th) in Hermon, Maine; Becker Tire & Treading Inc. (82nd) in Great Bend, Kan.; and Holyoke Tire & Auto Service Inc. (88th) in West Springfield, Mass. Terry-Haggerty Tire Co. Inc. (92nd) in Albany, N.Y., has cut hours to accommodate a decrease in production, but plans to add a builder before the end of the year.

Eastern Iowa Tire Inc. (45th) in Davenport, Iowa, added a shearography machine at one of its two retreading plants.

Sumerel Tire Service Inc. (75th) is adding more equipment to increase production at its Newport, Ky., Acutread mold cure facility. The plant runs 4.5 days per week and produces 156 truck tires per day.

Terry Westhafer, president of Central Tire Corp. (83rd) in Verona, Va., says he plans to expand his Acutread product line.

In addition to new equipment, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.-based McCarthy Tire Service Co. Inc., ninth on our list, hopes to add a sixth plant. Several other retreaders also are planning to increase capacity.

McGriff Treading Co. (29th) in Cullman, Ala., is planning to increase production by 4%.

Bergey’s Retread Technologies (49th) in Franconia, Pa., hopes to increase production by 9%, or 23 tires a day.

Gem City Tire (60th) in Dayton, Ohio, hopes to increase its daily truck tire retread production by 10%, which would increase its output from 210 to 230.

Moore’s Retread and Tire of the Ark-La-Tex Inc. (68th) in Shreveport, La., wants to maintain its current customer base and grow new business by 10%, according to President Daniel Hutchison.

“We are a specialty shop and plan to maintain our current capacity if possible,” says Phil Thompson, vice president of Thompson’s OK Tire Inc. The retreader produces eight truck tires and 30 industrial tires daily at its Beloit, Kan., plant using the Oliver precure process to retread truck tires and a system developed by OK Tire and Rubber Co. to retread industrial tires.

Jason Stewart of Action Tire Co. in Forest Park, Ga., echoed those thoughts. Action Tire, 99th on MTD’s list, has one goal: “Do our best to maintain our margins and production.”

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Open house

Hill Tire Co. recently held an open house to celebrate efficiency improvements at its retread plant in Forest Park, Ga. Close to 400 customers attended the by-invitation-only event, according to President Fred Hill.

The facility features one of only three Marangoni Ringbuilder 3000 machines in North America (the other two are owned by Systeme De Rechapage RTS Inc. in Montreal, Quebec; and Bergey’s Retread Technologies in Perkasie, Pa.). It features a dual hub assembly that automatically applies cushion gum to a buffed casing on one hub while a Ringtread truck tire is being built on the other.

Hill estimates the plant is retreading some 200 truck tires a day this year. Hill Tire’s other retread facility in Valdosta, Ga., is retreading between 80 to 100 truck tires a day.   ■

To see MTD’s “Top 100 Retreaders” click on the “Industry Resources” channel on this Web site. The list can be found under “Research & Stats.”

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