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OTR tire execs: 'Recovery will be gradual'

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If executives from several of the world's largest OTR tire manufacturers can agree on one thing, it's this: the North American OTR tire market will not spring back overnight.

"There is hope," Shawn Rasey, president, Bridgestone Americas, Off-Road Tires, said earlier today, Feb. 18, at the 2010 OTR Tire Conference in Tucson, Ariz. "But I think we're looking at a long-term recovery."

The North American OTR tire market has effectively reached a nadir, said Roger Lucas, vice president, Earthmover Division, Michelin North America Inc. Last year, as construction and mining projects ground to a halt, dealers were concerned with ridding themselves of excess inventory, he explained. That process will continue, "and we think there's going to be a rebound."

The construction industry will be a big question mark this year, said executives.

"Until we see a spike in homebuilding, the market is going to remain where it is," said Nelson Richards, national sales manager, Yokohama Tire Corp. "I look for a modest increase this year: 2% to 3%."

"We're seeing some growth in the mining business and the steel business is coming back," said Paul Hawkins, vice president, OTR sales, Titan Tire Corp. "With the housing market, I think the best thing you can say is it has bottomed-out."

Globally, Rongsheng Sheng, general manager, Techking Tires Ltd., which is based in China, expects moderate growth. "If you look at China, the situation was difficult" in 2009, "but we still realized high gross domestic product growth."

All five executives participated in a special panel discussion during The Tire Industry Association's OTR Tire Conference, which began yesterday, Feb. 17, and ends Feb. 20. For more reports from the OTR Tire Conference, stay tuned to!

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