RALEIGH, N.C. — A committee of the North Carolina General Assembly has voted to conduct its own study of the state´s retread tire contracts, based on an audit that claims the state is being overcharged more than $361,000 annually for school bus retreads.
The state´s retread contractor, however, insisted the audit is inaccurate and he is saving North Carolina millions of dollars annually in new tire costs.
The General Assembly´s joint transportation oversight committee voted unanimously Jan. 16 for the study, according to Rep. Nelson Cole, the committee chairman and a former regional operations manager for Ford Motor Co.
He said he expects the results to be ready for issuance by May.
According to Rep. Cole, the study will compare the bead-to-bead retreading technology used by the state´s current contractor, White´s Tire Service Inc. of Wilson, N.C., with competitors´ retreading processes to determine which methods result in the most durable, cost-effective tires.
North Carolina´s Office of the State Auditor issued a report last September that in a sample of 9,921 retreads from White´s Tire showed the retreader had charged for three spot repairs-the maximum charge allowed under the contract-99.1 percent of the time.
Conversely, 92 tires from another retreader showed that only 41.3 percent had any spot repairs at all.
"Interviews with other tire retread retailers and industry experts indicated that it is not routine to perform three spot repairs per tire for on-the-road tires," the report stated.
Ed White, president of White´s Tire Service, said the report completely misconstrued the reality of the retread market.
Whereas the state contract only allows him to charge for three spot repairs, he said, the average necessary spot repairs on each casing he receives from the state is around nine.
"The North Carolina state contract says each tire we retread must be equal in safety and performance to a new tire," White said.
"My rule is that when we find any flaws, cuts or nicks, we repair them and put the tire back in new-tire condition before we put on the rubber," he said.
White´s Tire´s adjustment rate for its bead-to-bead retreads runs about 1/6 of 1 percent, he said.
According to White, his company has supplied school bus retreads to North Carolina for 16 years. The current contract with the state, which began in 2002, has been extended until Feb. 28 of this year, he said.
White´s Tire also holds a retreading contract with South Carolina that has just been extended until Jan. 27, 2008, White said.