Want a secure job in the American tire manufacturing sector? Look no further than Titan International Inc.
A few years ago that statement would have seemed questionable. Titan was wallowing in red ink and involved in the longest labor dispute in tire industry history. Business was so bad it closed two of its tire plants.
That's old news, the old Titan. The agricultural tire and wheel maker is making money, increasing its sales and buying the operations of competitors. The latest is Continental North America Inc.'s OTR tire plant in Bryan, Ohio.
The sale still can go awry-as happened before with Conti's Bryan plant and various suitors-but the word is it's a done deal. Titan unsuccessfully tried last year to buy the facility in partnership with Rosler Group of Germany.
The biggest stumbling block in the Rosler deal was reaching a contract with the Steelworkers. This time, the union apparently is satisfied with working for Titan.
And why not? Titan is the rare company committed to making large off-road tires in this nation. The firm enthusiastically markets itself as a U.S. manufacturer, and in fact added to that status last year when it bought Goodyear's North American farm tire business. The United Steelworkers, by the way, enthusiastically supported that deal, too.
Unlike some other tire makers, Titan hasn't been closing facilities and transferring production to foreign sites, becoming just an importer of certain tire lines. Nor is it trying to wring concessions from union members by threatening layoffs or production shutdowns.
Titan, instead, is in a growth mode. And, perhaps, a selling mode, even though the sale of the company to a private equity firm failed recently. That deal died when Titan's largest shareholder balked, declaring the $18 per share price was too low. Considering Titan's recent performance, that argument might have merit.