FRANKLIN, Tenn.—If there's a silver lining in the COVID-19 pandemic, it's that many people have embraced outdoor activities for the first time.
For specialty tire and wheel maker Carlstar Group L.L.C., this is reason to be optimistic for the future.
The company is a global supplier of specialty tires and wheels serving the agricultural, industrial, lawn and garden, and power sports markets. Most of Carlstar's products carry the Carlisle flagship brand, but the Franklin-based company also goes to market with the ITP and Marastar brands, covering ATV/UTV tires and wheels, and small specialty tires, respectively.
Carlstar is considered the 48th largest tire company in the world, according to Rubber & Plastics News' 2020 Global Tire Report rankings, with estimated tire-related sales of $495 million in 2019.
The company's balance between original equipment and aftermarket customers has kept it competitive during the pandemic, said Laren Harmon, Carlstar executive vice president of sales and marketing.
"The strength we have experienced in 2020 in our aftermarket business has offset the OE weakness caused by the pandemic," he said. "In fact, certain segments in which we operate are having a record year for demand as our products are incorporated into many different social-distancing activities. These activities include such things as ATV trail riding, boating and RV, lawn and garden activities."
Harmon also noted ag tire sales—compact tractor, implement and semi-pneumatic tires—have done well this year. The construction segment has been sluggish, though, he said, as local and federal projects may have been put on hold during the pandemic, or funding was diverted because of it.
"We are the industry leaders in many of these product segments like lawn and garden, ST trailer and power sports, and, as a result, we have seen strong growth," Harmon said.
The firm has been busy in 2020, despite a two-week manufacturing shutdown in March.