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Fascinating Retreading Facts Paint Vibrant Picture

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Despite the impact of COVID-19, demand for medium truck tire retreads dropped only slightly from previous-year levels in the United States.

The late Harvey Brodsky often proclaimed, “Retreading is recycling!” And he was right. Retreading was recycling long before recycling and “going green” were mainstream. But retreading is many other things, too. Here are some interesting facts about the North American retreading market.

For starters, 2020 was not a bad year for retreading. Despite the impact of COVID-19, demand for medium truck tire retreads dropped only slightly from previous-year levels in the United States. An estimated 14 million medium truck tire retreads were produced in the U.S. during 2020, down roughly 500,000 units from 2019, according to MTD’s 2021 Facts Issue.

There are currently around 640 medium truck tire retread plants and 17 OTR tire retread plants in the U.S. (In 2001, according to MTD estimates, there were around 1,100 active, domestic truck tire retread plants. Going back to 1991, there were 1,556 retread plants in the U.S.) 

Those retreaders who have managed to survive consolidation continue to make major investments in their operations. Several retreaders expanded into brand new markets during 2020. Others made significant enhancements to existing plants or even opened new ones.

Ever wonder where retread plants are concentrated geographically? California and Texas have the most plants with more than 35 each. (That’s according to a joint report titled “Retread Tires in the United States and Canada: An Analysis of the Economic and Environmental Benefits for Fleet Operators and the United States Government,” which was published by Duke University, East Carolina University, North Carolina State University and the University of Michigan a few years ago. Bridgestone Bandag also contributed to the white paper, which cites MTD research, as well.)

Georgia ranks number three with slightly fewer than 30 retread plants. Florida, Indiana, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Wisconsin rounded out the “top 10” list with a roughly equal number of plants. (The states with the fewest retread plants? Connecticut, Idaho, Vermont and West Virginia.)

Up north, Quebec is the Canadian province with the most retread plants (more than 20), according to the report, followed by Ontario (between 15 and 20 plants); Alberta and British Columbia (nearly 10 plants each); Manitoba, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (around five plants a piece); and then Newfoundland and Saskatchewan (between one and five plants each.) Prince Edward Island is not represented on the list, nor are the three Canadian territories: Yukon, Nunavut and Northwest Territories.

Who uses retreads? It depends on the size of the fleet. According to the aforementioned report, 90% of fleets with 1,000 or more trucks use retreads, 89% of fleets with 500 to 99 trucks run retreads; and 87% of fleets with 100 to 499 trucks use them. Sixty-eight percent of fleets with 25 to 99 trucks use retreads and 55% of fleets with five to 24 trucks run them. The smallest fleets - those with one to four trucks, including owner-operators - are the least likely to run retreads at only 34%.

Who are the 10 biggest retreaders in the U.S.? Southern Tire Mart LLC topped MTD’s 2020 Top 50 Retreaders list, followed by, in descending order, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.; Snider Tire Inc. dba Snider Fleet Solutions; Pomp’s Tire Service Inc.; Purcell Tire & Rubber Co.; McCarthy Tire Service Co. Inc.; Best-One Tire Group; Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations LLC dba CGR Tires & Service; Service Tire Truck Centers Inc.; and Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores Inc., which recently rebranded its tire operation as Love’s Truck Care. 

An updated version of the Top 50 Retreaders list will appear in the April 2021 edition of MTD, along with other exclusive, retread market-related facts and figures. Don’t miss it!

 

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