SEMA/AAPEX Shows Delivered the Goods -- New Tires, New Technologies, New Tools – and a New Tire Show?

The 2019 edition of Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week, which includes both the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show and Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX), is in the books.

And while attendance figures were not available as of press time, the tire industry was once again well-represented as manufacturers, marketers and equipment providers leveraged the Global Tire Expo section of the SEMA Show to introduce new products, technologies and tools. And some provided updates on their plans for next year.

Perhaps the most significant news of the week pertained to AAPEX itself.

On Nov. 6, the show’s owners, the Auto Care Association and the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association, revealed that the 2020 edition of AAPEX will feature a tire industry component within a newly created space inside the show called Repair Shop HQ.

Potential  participants will include “a combination of tire companies and tire service-related companies,” according to Mark Bogdansky, vice president of meetings and events for the Auto Care Association.

“We already have 80 to 90 tire accessory companies that are already at AAPEX,” he says. “We also have found that there are a lot of companies — both tire manufacturers and tire service suppliers — that are already doing business at AAPEX. We now have the opportunity to bring them in.”

Bill Hanvey, CEO and president of the Auto Care Association, says AAPEX’s owners “are having conversations with (companies) that have walked away from the SEMA Show. We’ve been approached for a number of years by tire and tire accessory companies that have wanted to be part of AAPEX.”

He and Bogdansky both declined to name specific tire industry participants.

The event is renewing its focus on automotive repair shop owners and automotive service technicians, he notes. “We understand the majority of car repairs are first seen as a result of tire work. We understand the value that tires and tire work bring to our industry.”

When asked if he believes that adding tires to AAPEX will create a competitive situation with the SEMA Show, Hanvey replied that the inclusion of tires at AAPEX “will be complementary to what SEMA is doing on the tire side. We do have companies that exhibit at both (events) already.”

Here’s more news from both the SEMA Show and AAPEX:

BKT will introduce a 57-inch tire

Balkrishna Industries Ltd. (BKT), which boasted one of the largest tire manufacturer booths inside the Global Tire Expo, is planning to add a 57-inch OTR tire in 2020, Arvind Poddar, BKT chairman and managing director, told MTD.

“We’ve seen good pick-up” in demand for BKT’s OTR tires, says Rajiv Poddar, the company’s joint managing director, leading to a 60% climb in the Mumbai, India-based firm’s OTR tire sales this year.

BKT also is working with Caterpillar on possible original equipment positioning.

In addition, the tire manufacturer is “positive about growth” in the farm tire segment, despite a difficult planting season caused by adverse weather in many parts of the United States. BKT increased its farm tire revenue during 2019, and “we still have a lot of room to grow,” according to the elder Poddar.

The company also provided an update on its United States tire plant. BKT officials announced this past August that the factory was on hold due to the “challenging economic and business environment.”

BKT has enough capacity options to meet present levels of demand within its current footprint. The company’s board will revisit the planned U.S. plant within the next two years.

Cooper launches tire, ad campaign

Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. used the Global Tire Expo to highlight a new ad campaign, featuring the tagline “Go with the Coopers,” and a new tire, the Discoverer EnduraMax.

The campaign “is a significant effort for us,” according to Jessica Edgerton, the company’s director of brand development. The SEMA Show was “the first place where we’ve been able to talk to a lot of people about it.”

The campaign includes TV spots, as well as print and digital ads, and features a newly created company “spokesman” named “Uncle Cooper,” who is described as “a no-nonsense relative who is an expert in all things automotive.”

“’Go with the Coopers’ is about helping consumers get the answers they need,” says Edgerton. “We’re trying to make it easy on them with all of the branding we’re doing,” including in-store point-of-sale materials for Cooper tire dealers.

Cooper also introduced its new Discoverer EnduraMax, which “leverages advanced technology from Cooper’s ultra-durable off-road tires into all-season tires,” according to Cooper officials.

Made for small and mid-size SUVs, the tire contains Cooper’s Durable-Tread Technology, which helps extend tire tread life; the company’s Armor Belt Technology for added strength and improved handling; and other technologies. It will be available next summer.

More sizes for Duro’s MT tire

Duro Tire and Wheel Corp. introduced the Frontier MT tire in a limited number of sizes at last year’s SEMA Show. This year, the company featured more fitments for the tire. Five are available now for a wide range of rim sizes and more are being developed, according to Chris Clinton, sales and marketing manager.

Duro also featured its new Frontier powersports tire for modified golf carts. Clinton says golf carts are being used for recreational and community use, as well as on golf courses.

Kanati Armor Hog ATX has all-steel casing

Greenball Corp. announced it is releasing the Kanati Armor Hog ATX in 28 sizes for 17- to 20-inch rims in the first quarter of 2020. With an all-steel casing, the 12-ply tire, which is made in Indonesia, is a hybrid between an all-terrain and a rugged terrain tire.“The all-steel construction is the first of its kind for this category,” says Randy Tsai, Greenball’s senior vice president. “All-steel has been used mostly for commercial products, and we are bringing that strength and capability to consumers.”

Maxxis rolls out all-terrain tire

Maxxis International – USA introduced its new, flagship all-terrain tire, the Razr AT, which “was engineered with the knowledge gained from Maxxis’ involvement in off-road racing,” according to Maxxis officials.

The tire features a new off-road compound “with advanced chemical fillers” for enhanced tear resistance and tread life, plus an aggressive armor sidewall design for increased traction and puncture resistance. It also contains the firm’s new, dual-cord casing technology, which “dramatically improves casing strength for superior durability and toughness.”In addition  , the Razr AT boasts a tread pattern containing 3D tread blocks and bridge reinforcements to reduce road noise and irregular wear. 

Mickey Thompson gets ‘back to the basics’

Cooper’s Mickey Thompson Performance Tires & Wheels subsidiary is “trying to re-establish (itself) at the premium end of the performance aftermarket,” says Todd Pickens, Mickey Thompson’s vice president of sales.

“We spent a few years chasing volume plays and that’s just not Mickey Thompson,” he notes. New products — including Mickey Thompson’s largest light truck tire, the Baja Pro XS — will be central to the brand’s “back to the basics” strategy. (The tire will be available in 10 sizes, ranging from 35 inches to 58 inches, in 2020.)Mickey Thompson also is adding 15 key sizes to its Baja Boss extreme mud terrain tire next year. The tire pr  emiered at the 2018 SEMA Show and has been well-received by its target audience.

Double-digit growth (and a new tire) for Nexen

 “Our growth this year is over double digits for the second year in a row,” John Hagan, sales executive vice president for Nexen Tire America Inc., told MTD.

Hagan attributes Nexen’s growth to several factors, including standardization of the company’s sales and marketing programs, a process that started last year, as well as continued utilization of its Next Level associate dealer program.

“We also have been more active with our customer base,” including participating in Nexen dealer-sponsored events, such as open houses.And a distribution arrangement with Mopar, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ parts and service organization, is paying big dividends for Nexen. Through the deal, Mopar network members can now source Nexen brand tires from Nexen tire distributors and dealers.

Heading into 2020, Nexen will continue to promote its Next Level program while strengthening its dealer network.

The new Roadian GTX all-season touring SUV/CUV tire will play a major role in Nexen’s 2020 strategy, as well. The tire, which covers more than 90% of small CUV to mid-size SUV fitments, comes with a 70,000-mile tread wear warranty.

Tireco is bullish on Milestar

Tireco Inc. is evaluating “a lot of feature and benefit add-ons” for its flagship Milestar passenger and light truck tire brand, says Andrew Hoit, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing. And a Milestar associate dealer program is in the works.

“Right now, a lot of our focus on the Milestar side is in the light truck area,” he says. “If you look at the mud terrain category, demand for our products has been incredible. We’ve been on back order with the top four mud terrain sizes.”

Tireco is developing a large-diameter Milestar brand sport light truck tire for SUV applications. And the company is investing resources in its other brands, Westlake and Nankang. It recently announced the addition of the Conqueror M/T-1 to the Nankang NK sport light truck tire line. And the firm has attached a limited mileage warranty to its Westlake passenger and light truck tires in North America.

“We’ll expand into new categories during the second half of 2020,” said Hoit. “You’ll see us introduce a ‘max ultra-high performance’ tire in the Milestar and Westlake lines.”

The Milestar, Westlake and Nankang product lines each cover 95% of the U.S. replacement tire market, he adds.

TIA celebrates the best of the tire industry

Brent Hesje, CEO of Fountain Tire Ltd., may have coined the ultimate definition of the tire industry. “I think it’s a bunch of characters full of good character,” Hesje said after he was inducted into the Tire Industry Association (TIA) Hall of Fame on Nov. 4.

Many of those characters gathered for TIA’s 2019 Tire Industry Honors night in Las Vegas. The TIA celebration serves as the unofficial opening ceremony for tire dealers at the annual Specialty Equipment Market Association Show.The late Frank Holeman, who served as director of the Tire Industry Safety Council from 1969 to 1987, also was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Edward Burleson Sr., president of Central Marketing Inc., received the Ed Wagner Leadership Award.

Hesje has spent 27 years at Fountain Tire, including the last 14 as CEO. He’s led the Canadian tire dealership through incredible growth, nearly tripling its stores, all while managing an admittedly unique ownership structure. (Fountain Tire is 49% owned by Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., he said.)

In his remarks, Hesje thanked TIA as another valuable partner, saying, “Our company is safer because of you.”

Holeman died in 1996. His family was unable to attend the ceremony to receive the award on his behalf. But they sent their appreciation in a letter, describing Holeman as a humble man who “became almost as passionate about rubber as he was about journalism.”

Holeman had been the Washington bureau chief for the New York Daily News and past president of the National Press Club when he decided it was time to get a better-paying job to support his wife and four children. He joined the Tire Industry Safety Council as director in 1969 and was the go-to source for information about safe practices in tire manufacturing, tire retailing, tire care and maintenance.

Burleson said receiving the Ed Wagner Leadership Award was “truly a highlight in my life.” He started changing tires as a senior in high school and has been a part of the tire industry ever since. He worked in retail and wholesale, and also as a retreader. In 1986, when he started Central Marketing, he focused solely on selling rubber and casings to retreaders. He sought out innovators in technology across the globe and worked to bring automation to retreading in North America.

“This business has been a big part of my life,” said Burleson. “I feel like the industry has a great future.”

The award is named after tire industry legend and longtime Modern Tire Dealer contributor Ed Wagner.

Toyo continues to exert influence

Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp. was highly visible during the SEMA Show, with fitments on more than 30 vehicles, and as the sponsor of its well-traveled Treadpass conduit between the central and south halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

“We’re heavily invested in the (automotive) enthusiast market and will probably invest even more next year,” says Tim Chaney, Toyo’s vice president of marketing. “But our influencers aren’t just enthusiasts. They’re our dealer partners, as well. We’re creating new programs to work directly with our key dealer partners…co-branding programs, marketing programs, promotions. We’re going to leverage our dealer network to promote Toyo.”

The company has invested “a significant amount of money” in the Pacific Northwest, where Les Schwab Tire Centers Inc. had exclusive access to Toyo brand passenger and light truck tires until Jan. 1, 2019.

Michael Graber, Toyo’s new vice president of sales as of Jan. 1, 2020, says that while Toyo’s relationship with Les Schwab “is very strong,” Toyo consumer tires are no longer exclusive to one distributor or dealer in the northwestern U.S.

“We’ve had good success with both Les Schwab and other companies that operate (in the area), whether they are distributors that are promoting our associate dealer program or retailers like Point S and Discount Tire.”

Yokohama pumps up Advan line

Yokohama Tire Corp.’s exhibit outside the South Hall of the convention center celebrated the company’s motorsports heritage and its Advan product line.

Four out of the nine new tires that Yokohama introduced in 2019 were Advan products, says Fardad Niknam, Yokohama’s senior director of product marketing and planning. These include, among others, the Advan Sport A/S+, an ultra-high performance tire, and the Avid Ascend LX, a premium touring tire that is available in nearly 40 sizes.

As part of Yokohama’s Advan strategy, Niknam says the tire maker will accelerate new product development, bringing tires to market much faster than in the past. “We will have a very young product portfolio.” Yokohama also will aggressively expand the Advan family’s overall size lineup next year.

To promote the Advan line, Yokohama will host customer and product showcase events, including ride-and-drives, in different regions of the United States throughout 2020.

“Participation in motorsports (also) is important to Yokohama,” he says. Weeks before the SEMA Show, Yokohama announced it will be the title partner for three Porsche-centric race series in 2020; the Advan A005 race slick will be the spec tire for all events.

ASA offers help with customer acquisition

ASA Automotive Systems Inc. is creating an entirely new digital division to direct consumers to tire dealers and help dealers retain those consumers.

The unit is staffed by ASA’s own in-house team of industry experts who will provide services and products that integrate everything from digital marketing and mobile-optimized websites to social media and digital advertising.

Tire dealers can utilize ASA’s new digital team even if they’re not existing customers or users of the ASA point-of-sale system.

The system provides services designed for tire dealerships that offer mobile tire service. It also offers solutions for online appointment scheduling and texts to remind consumers of upcoming appointments and to alert them when vehicles are ready. There’s also a platform designed for the service department, and a dealer’s fleet customers also can log in and check the status of their accounts.

BH SENS: a new name in TPMS

Two companies that have supplied more than 100 million tire pressure monitoring sensors (TPMS) on vehicles announced the formation of a joint venture that they say will help them become the third largest TPMS supplier in the world.

Huf Hulsbeck & Furst, a German company, and Shanghai Baolong Automotive Group have created BH SENS for the North American market. The new venture will provide direct fit replacement parts, as well as the IntelliSens Universal TPMS sensor program, which covers more than 150 million vehicles in operation throughout North America.

“Not all sensors are created equal,” says Tony Davenport, global vice president of aftermarket for the new firm. “We have a premium quality, innovative and extensive product range that is continuously being tweaked based on the ever-changing market changes. We want to make everything about TPMS easier and safer for service providers, wholesalers and all of our customers.”

Bosch updates scan tool software

Bosch unveiled its 4.0 software update, which provides faster scanning capabilities, expands European vehicle coverage and allows access to FCA Secure Gateway (SGW) vehicles for all ADS and OTC diagnostic tools. 

“We are now scanning vehicles on average less than 60 seconds; that’s the entire vehicle and all systems,” says Danijela Haskin, product manager for Bosch Automotive Service Solutions LLC. In addition, “very competitive” coverage of European vehicles has been merged into the scan tool platform. The upgrade also includes secure access to the SWG module found in most 2018 and newer Fiat Chrysler Automobiles vehicles. “Starting in 2018 model year, Chrysler implemented a secure gateway on vehicles and only approved scan tool manufacturers have access to those vehicles,” says Haskin. “With this 4.0 update, any Bosch diagnostic tools will be able to access secure Chrysler vehicles.”

Continental updates VDO REDI-Sensor

Continental Commercial Vehicles & Aftermarket introduced a VDO REDI-Sensor that provides coverage to more than 120 million vehicles in operation, across a dozen brands. It will be available during the first quarter of 2020.

The TPMS sensor applies to vehicles model year 2014 or newer, including Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, GMC, Hyundai, Jeep, Nissan, Ram and Subaru. Shops also will be able to replace over 280 original equipment sensors, according to Continental officials.

The REDI-Sensor SE10005 is compatible with all major scan tools and is ready to install right out of the box, with no need for programming or cloning.

Delphi brings new fuel parts to market

Delphi Product and Service Solutions announced it has 300 new part numbers coming by the end of 2019, and another 400 new parts in 2020. Delphi says more than 70 will be first-to-market offerings.

 “We are committed to finding complete solutions to support our customers’ businesses,” says Chad Smith, vice president of Delphi’s aftermarket business in North America. “This means taking care of their parts, testing, and training needs, all in one program. And this is particularly true for fuel handling.”

The company offers more than 2,000 parts numbers in fuel handling. In 2019, those offerings increased by 10%. Delphi will double that in 2020. GDi represents one of the fastest areas of vehicle service, says Smith.

Epicor enhances MechanicNet

Five months after acquiring MechanicNet, Epicor Software Corp. has added to the tools available in its customer relationship management system to help tire dealers communicate with customers.

Users can now manage their online reviews from multiple social media platforms in a single location. From the dashboard, an owner or manager can review and respond to reviews and monitor his or her business’ overall reputation score. In addition, the system helps remind consumers of service appointments via text.

Epicor also has added a folded greeting card option within the software. Users can segment their customer list by dollar amount spent and send tailored postcards to them.

Hunter updates Push Reports

Hunter Engineering Co. used every part of its 7,000-square-foot to display undercar service and inspection equipment. The company demonstrated most of its product line, including nine new products. Hunter also previewed a new version of its reporting tool for tracking inspection machine productivity. 

Hunter has updated its Push Reports to provide a week-long, rather than daily, view of performance. This will help tire dealers “perform well over time and maximize every opportunity that comes into the shop,” says Alan Hagerty, Hunter product manager.

Hunter was named the 2019 SEMA Manufacturer of the Year for outstanding contributions to the automotive industry during the past 12 months.E-Cube outfits a vehicle for mobile tire service

Featured products in Gaither Tool Co. Inc.’s booth included the E-Cube compact mobile tire servicing unit, the Bead Bazooka tire bead seater and the new Moore Safe bottle jack.

The E-Cube is an all-in-one system that includes a tire changer, wheel balancer, silent air compressor and lithium ion battery bank. It can service low-profile and run-flat tires and accommodate wheel diameters up to 38 inches.

Because of the E-Cube’s small footprint, mobile techs can bring more inventory, as well as other revenue generating equipment, such as oil changes or car washes, with them, according to William Brahler, operation manager.

“That’s important because to make the concept of mobile service viable, you have to have enough equipment and inventory to offer enough services to make it a profitable exchange for the investment in the vehicles,” says Brahler.

Denso has app for inspecting vehicles

Denso Corp. unveiled Vehicle MRI, a mobile app inspection tool designed to help identify under-performing parts and save time by automating numerous tasks.

Vehicle MRI recommends parts and services that may have otherwise been missed and makes predictive maintenance recommendations based on the possibility of future parts failures. The app automates tasks such as checking for out-of-date software, open recalls and technical service bulletins related to the vehicle, as well as perf  orming battery checks.

MRI works on all OBD II makes and models since 1996.

The Vehicle MRI app is designed to be a supplement to a visual inspection, according to Frank Choi, business and product development manager for Denso Connected Services.

Tech has solutions for tire recycling and TPMS

Solutions for end-of-life tires and TPMS were highlighted in Tech International’s booth. Tech is bringing the Salvadori brand of recycling equipment — which can turn all types of tires, from passenger to OTR, into crumb rubber — to the U.S. market.

“A retreader can sell their crumb (rubber) to somebody who wants to manufacture end products,” says Cody Lawless, key account manager for Tech.

The company also featured its TPMS sensor and tools at the show. The company offers a true one-sensor program, according to Lawless. “Our sensors are configurable and programmable.”    ■

About the Author

Ann Neal

Ann Neal is a former senior editor at Modern Tire Dealer.

About the Author

Joy Kopcha | Managing Editor

After more than a dozen years working as a newspaper reporter in Kansas, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, Joy Kopcha joined Modern Tire Dealer as senior editor in 2014. She has covered murder trials, a prison riot and more city council, county commission, and school board meetings than she cares to remember.

About the Author

Mike Manges | Editor

Mike Manges is Modern Tire Dealer’s editor. A 25-year tire industry veteran, he is a three-time International Automotive Media Association award winner and holds a Gold Award from the Association of Automotive Publication Editors. Mike has traveled the world in pursuit of stories that will help independent tire dealers move their businesses forward. Before rejoining MTD in September 2019, he held corporate communications positions at two Fortune 500 companies and served as MTD’s senior editor from 2000 to 2010.