HARTVILLE, Ohio-Trelleborg Wheel Systems Americas Inc. hopes to take advantage of a shortage of large farm tires to penetrate the North American market.
The unit of Trelleborg Wheel Systems S.p.A. of Tivoli, Italy, during the past year has been creating a core dealer network with the promise of providing another source of tires amid an industry shortfall of extra-large rear radial farm tires.
"Demand from the (original equipment) and replacement markets has outstripped what is available," said Jeff Jankowski, director of sales for agricultural and forestry tires for the Hartville-based U.S. operation.
He said Trelleborg is in the same situation as other tire makers, so it can fill some, but not all, of the demand. For that reason, Trelleborg isn´t planning to expand its network of seven major dealership chains in the near future so it can adequately supply its current customer base.
Trelleborg held its first dealer council meeting a few months ago with those seven North American dealerships to discuss the direction of the company and the market and ways Trelleborg can improve its services.
Jankowski said farm vehicle manufacturers have indicated high demand and short supply of the large tires will continue into 2009 because of worldwide food and alternative fuel demand. He said tractor manufacturers are driving demand by producing higher-horsepower tractors that require more durable and heavier tires.
Demand is equally high in both the OE and replacement markets, he said.
For its part, Trelleborg is increasing capacity and investing in its plants overseas to meet demand for the 38- to 46-inch rear radial tires.
Jankowski said these tires are a niche market where demand is high in North America and Eastern Europe. The company produces radials at its Tivoli plant and bias-ply tires at its Sri Lanka factory and some contract facilities.
Trelleborg said it has been able to develop a dealer network in the U.S. and Canada on its perceived brand quality in a Tier 1 category, Jankowski said.
The North American unit has been distributing ag tires since 2001 and now "is charged with profitably growing the North American market," Jankowski said. The company offers farm/forestry and lawn and garden tires and wheels.
"We´re just now going out to the OEMs and some of the key dealers to take on the wheel line. We´re not aggressively promoting that," Jankowski said. "Our core and key objective was to produce a portfolio of tires."
Trelleborg Wheel Systems S.p.A. accounts for 11 percent of parent Trelleborg A.B.´s sales of about $4.9 billion in 2007. North America represents 20 percent of the firm´s global tire and wheel sales, behind Europe at 68 percent.