Maine Industrial Tires Ltd. will expand its polyurethane operation and offerings in the next few months.
The company's MaineTire division, which produces a number of proprietary and generic urethane products, also is reviewing the way it markets its goods. The unit won't simply rely on word of mouth, as it has in the past, two company officials said.
``We're now entering the original equipment market, whereas in the past we never went after the OE but just dealt in the aftermarket,'' said Ken Hebert, chief financial officer of MITL and general manager of MaineTire. ``We're doing it to gain revenue and growth.''
About 10 percent of MaineTire's sales are of urethane-based products and the firm wants to build on that, according to John Disher, director of manufacturing.
``We're in the midst of developing a strategic plan in that regard,'' Hebert said. ``Because of the slowdown in the tire business, we're looking at expanding our niche product line. We can't release details yet, but we're not seeing the growth in tire sales so we view polyurethane as an opportunity for us today.''
MITL is trying to expand both ends of its business-rubber and urethane-at the same time, he indicated. To that end, it plans to unveil some new product designs and lines shortly. He did not reveal what they are because ``we don't want to tip our hand yet.''
In the past, MaineTire for the most part sold its urethane goods ``quite by accident and word of mouth,'' Hebert said. ``That won't continue.''
The Gorman-based firm currently makes urethane spinners, sprockets for track vehicles, snowplow blades and an assortment of other products.
``We'd also like to get a larger share of the market we're already in because we have the tooling and expertise,'' Disher said. ``But many of our polyurethane special products are used in the winter and the last winter we had was soft so that hurt sales.''
Its current urethane product list includes Premathane tires, snowplow blades, snow groomer accessories, sprockets and spinners. It also makes custom-molded cold weather items.
MaineTire's new offerings may fit into more than the cold weather season, the executives said.
``We know we have a very good (urethane) compound and we believe there are additional opportunities for us in the marketplace,'' Hebert said.
The company plans to aim its sales force in that direction and focus more advertising on polyurethane products in the future, he said.
``From a sales and marketing vantage point, we're going to beef up,'' Hebert said.
Disher, who directs the firm's much larger rubber segment, recently took on the additional duties of polyurethane sector director. He has previous experience in the urethane end of the business.
``I think I'm getting a better understanding of what we need to do,'' he said, ``and we're making progress.''
MaineTire hopes to come out with new offerings in three to six months, the two officials said.