Jeffrey Parks is managing director of the Retread Tire Association (RTA). In response to questions posed by Aftermarket Business World, he recently provided a detailed explanation of the retreaded tire marketplace:
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Q: What is the background of your organization? What does RTA do?
A: The Retread Tire Association was started by a gentleman named Harvey Brodsky, who was already a giant in the retreading industry when he began our association in 2010. Harvey had worked in the tire industry, and then as Managing Director for TRIB (the Tire Retread Information Bureau) for 30 years, and in 2010 he branched off on his own to start RTA. He based the goals and mission of RTA on the same commitment to personal attention and camaraderie that he had long endorsed to the industry: Create business and trust built on a handshake, integrity and good information.
It didn’t take long for RTA to grow to over 350 members and it continues to grow. We strive to be a friend and an ally to our partners in the transportation industry, truckers, fleet managers, and also to share information with them about retreading, the process, distribution, problem-solving, new tire manufacturers, and the best ways for our members to network with these larger companies and their affiliates.
I took over as managing director in 2016, and we continue to follow Harvey’s stringent goals of one-on-one communication with our members, and we adhere to those standards while expanding the scope of RTA.
For example, we send out thousands of memos every year for our members, including Tire Casing Memos, Supplier/Equipment Memos, Export Memos, News You Can Use and Promotional Product Memos; all designed to get a clear, easy to read message to our recipients. We act as a clearinghouse for all types of information about the tire and retreading industries.
Our Casing and Supplier/Export memos reach over 900 targeted email addresses globally, and we send out our News Memos to over 4,000 global recipients, all who have requested to receive our information. RTA is all about building relationships. It’s very important that we make sure that everything we send is targeted, and never to be perceived as spam. We are continually updating our recipients’ list to keep it fresh and pertinent.
We also network with our members and associates by attending tire expos, conferences and industry events that help educate and inform the public about retreads.
Q: How can a store owner and repair shop benefit by offering retreaded tires?
A: Ultimately, a tire shop wants to sell a quality product, and gain repeat customers, so by offering retreads you add at least one more option to your sales potential. There are many ways you can look at the benefits of retreads to the consumer, and they are primarily cost savings, environmental advantages, and safety and durability.
Regarding significant cost savings, a good tire retreading program can save large truck fleets hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, and it’s why companies such as UPS, the U.S. Postal Service and FedEx depend on retreads to bring their costs down, and of course, that action benefits anyone who uses their services.
On a smaller scale, small fleet managers or individual owner-operators can find measurable savings through the use of retreads. Unless you’re in business for a hobby, you want to keep all the money on your side of the table that you possibly can. The bottom line is: Retreads will save you money.
Retreads are also very environmentally friendly. Looking at the environmental benefits of retreads as compared to virgin tires, there’s no comparison. Retreads beat the pants off new tires in that regard. We’ve all seen the statistics showing that retreading a tire will consume around 7 gallons of oil, while manufacturing a brand new tire can take up to 22 gallons. There are an estimated 24 million retread tires sold every year, and the use of those retreaded tires save on-average 360 million gallons of oil per year.
In addition to that, keeping millions of tires out of our waste stream, our landfills and environment is imperative. We can no longer afford to be a throw-away society, and retreads are one of the only recycled products that are virtually 100 percent recyclable, many times over. With the state of California alone, producing more than 44 million waste tires annually, you can see that that it’s imperative that all of us do our part to reduce those waste numbers. Retreading is recycling. There really are no disadvantages. In reality, using retreads can be a huge benefit across the board.
Another benefit is that the need for various tire sizes and types of highway, or off-road conditions, is addressed thoroughly by retreaders, making them available for just about all uses worldwide. The safety and durability of retreads continues to evolve and you can expect a retreaded tire to last just as long as a new tire, with the added benefit of retreadability to rebuild the tire and get it back on the road for numerous life spans.
The quality and the life cycle of retreads are improving every day. New tread rubber compounds, new equipment and techniques, all point to retreads getting better and better each year. There is a continual effort on behalf of the retreaders to boost their quality, so just like any other product they are continually trying to improve their standards and maintain the economic benefits that make retreading so attractive.
And then the $100,000 question: Are retreads really, really safe? The answer in a word is YES. Millions of retreaded tires are safely in use worldwide on commercial and military airlines, fire engines and other emergency vehicles, school and municipal buses, racecars, taxis, package delivery services and postal services in most countries worldwide, as well as on commercial trucks of all sizes.
In the U.S. there is even a Federal Executive order (13149) MANDATING the use of retreaded tires on many federal vehicles. None of the above would dream of using retreads if they were not safe. The safety, performance and reliability of retreads being produced today, in top quality retread plants, equal that of the major brand (and far more expensive) new tires.