LAS VEGAS—Omni United (S) Pte. Ltd. may not be well known in the U.S., but the firm is looking to change that.
The Singapore-based contract tire manufacturing, marketing and distribution firm recently launched the Leao brand of Chinese-made truck and bus radial tires for both the U.S. and European markets and will expand the brand next year to include passenger and light truck tires.
This follows Omni United´s introduction two years ago of Chinese-made Roadlux truck/bus and light truck commercial radials to the U.S. marketplace.
But Omni United is not stopping there.
In 2006 the firm is looking to add a line of super single and flotation tires, in sizes 385/65R22.5 and 425/65R22.5, for the U.S. market, according to G.S. Sareen, group managing director and company founder.
It also may expand its distribution of the Chao Yang brand, made by Chinese tire maker Hangzhou Zhongce Tyre Co. Ltd., beyond Europe to the U.S. by offering the Chao Yang Goodride line.
"That will complete the suite of products—passenger, high performance, light truck radial and TBR (truck/bus radial)," Sareen said during an interview at the Specialty Equipment Market Association trade show, held late last year in Las Vegas.
Finally, he said, the company is considering adding a radial earthmover line—to be made by the same company producing the Leao brand—to its U.S. product lineup by the middle of 2006. Sareen would not identify the Leao-brand manufacturer but did say it was one of China´s top four tire makers.
The Leao brand—Leao means lion in Portuguese—is being offered in a full range of sizes from 215/75R17.5 to 445/65R22.5, he said.
Steady growth curve
Omni United has grown steadily since its founding in 2002 by Sareen, a 12-year tire industry veteran who has started and sold several tire distribution companies, all based in Singapore, prior to this venture. The firm has 25 employees and maintains two warehouses in China—in Liaoning and Shandong provinces.
In the U.S., the company is represented by Omni United USA Inc., headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla. In addition, Omni United has sales offices in Tarragona, Spain; Richmond, England; and Bhopal, India.
Sales for the firm should reach $50 million in 2005 and are expected to double in 2006, he said. Seventy percent of sales in 2005 came from North America with Europe and India contributing 20 and 10 percent, respectively.
In 2006, Sareen sees that breakdown shifting slightly, with North America contributing 60 percent of sales, Europe 25 percent and India 15 percent.
Sareen said the company sold about 160,000 Roadlux truck and bus tires in the U.S. in 2005. The goal is to increase that total to 200,000 tires in 2006 and to sell an additional 100,000 Leao brand tires for a total of 300,000 units.
The Roadlux and Leao lines, he said, are completely different products made by different tire manufacturers.
Omni United also plans to begin marketing high-performance passenger tires in the U.S. under the Leao brand by the end of the first quarter, Sareen said.
Besides offering quality products at competitive prices, Sareen said he´s building the company around good customer service, quick delivery and exclusive distribution territories.
That latter point is one reason for the introduction of the Leao line of truck and bus tires, which are available in both rib and lug designs.
When it began offering the Roadlux line two years ago, Omni United awarded exclusive U.S. territories to a handful of distributors in 12 states, which is a key reason the company has grown. Now the firm needs a new range of tires "so it doesn´t cannibalize Roadlux," Sareen said.
To meet its growth plans, Omni United is looking for fresh distribution in the U.S. in areas where the firm has no representation, he said, noting the Midwest is wide open.
"While we are looking for new distribution, we are keeping a provision for the growth in the current distribution business," he said. "We don´t want the current distributors to run out of products while we are acquiring new accounts."
This effort to take care of current and new customers is a hallmark of Omni United, Sareen said.
"Price and quality are two things that have to be there in every product," he said. "But success lies in what more we can be giving to the customer. That´s what we focus on."
With that in mind, the company´s business model is not to build production on orders but to build product, put it in the warehouses and ship from there.
"This is the reason why we are successful because we are able to ship tires quickly," he said. "Our average order to shipment is 12 days."