Continental invests in Mexico tread rubber plant

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Updated Jan 6, 2012

Continental Tire the Americas’ commercial vehicle tire unit on Thursday, Jan. 5, kicked off its annual meeting in Florida with an announcement regarding its ContiLifeCycle retreading solution. In the opening discussion, Paul Williams, executive vice president for truck tires in the Americas, announced that Continental has made a significant investment in its tread rubber plant in central Mexico.

“We first opened the ContiLifeCycle tread rubber manufacturing plant in May 2011 with the intent of supplying our ContiLifeCycle retread licensees and company-owned plants throughout our current footprint of the U.S., Mexico and the Andean region, and expanding in the near future to include the Mercosur countries,” Williams said to a crowd of more than 150 dealers from throughout the United States and Canada. “Due to overwhelming demand, today I am happy to announce a multimillion dollar investment at this central location, which is occurring more than a year earlier than anticipated.”

The investment, Williams said, includes a capacity increase by adding an additional curing and finishing line, and doubles the size of the manufacturing facility to allow for additional space for both raw materials and work in progress. The facility will have a footprint of more than 4,000 square meters space. Production of Continental’s ContiTread flat treads has been tripled, he said.

“This expansion allows us to accommodate the growing need for retreaded truck tires in our current markets, and to comfortably expand as we reach even further across the Americas,” Williams said. “The result is that Continental now has the ability to cap more than 1.2 million truck tires annually with our ContiTreads. An additional expansion has already been planned for 2014, which involves yet another curing and finishing line to be installed.”

Williams attributes the growth of the ContiLifeCycle business to the need for fleets in the Americas to have an economical lifetime truck tire solution, and also to the high level of interest from dealers in each country.

“We know that the ContiLifeCycle has a lot to offer as far as independence for retreaders, excellent products and great support,” Williams said. “Since we’re already expanding, dealers can be confident that we will be able to meet their needs with a reliable supply of tread rubber and related materials. These things put together are a very attractive combination that we know many dealers are interested in adopting.”

Continental currently is offering 14 ContiTread tread patterns in various widths and depths, and the portfolio continues to expand, said ContiLifeCycle manager John Barnes.

“The new truck tires we release beginning in 2012 will be evaluated for production as ContiTreads,” Barnes said. “The majority of these product launches will immediately include a retread component with the same pattern as the new tire, and performance just like it as well. So this year marks the beginning of our seamless transition from new products just available to the market to ContiTreads as well, making even greater availability of a true lifetime product.”

The meeting also included the introduction of Continental’s “Solutions for your Business” meeting concept, which involves a multitude of tools and seminars designed to help dealers navigate the fluid business climate of the 21st century and the tire industry. Director of marketing Clif Armstrong said that dealers at the meeting are being exposed to every product Continental has to offer.

In addition to Commercial Vehicle Tire products and services, representatives of other key commercial truck component businesses of Continental AG showcased their solutions. Continental’s Passenger and Light Truck Tire group, key industry new and retread suppliers, and representatives from Continental’s Uvalde Proving Grounds in Texas also participated. The goal, Armstrong said, was to provide dealers a complete 360-degree view of Continental products and services.

“Continental, as one of the leading automotive suppliers worldwide, has the potential to touch or develop almost any part of a commercial truck,” Armstrong said. “Tires are just a part of our global family that also includes telematics, sensors, navigation systems, brakes and much more. At this year’s meeting, we’re showing dealers how Continental is a true partner for their business, providing them with some valuable business-building tools as well as our latest news regarding Continental and General commercial truck tires.”

The keynote speaker at the event, demographer Ken Gronbach, is the best-selling author of “The Age Curve: How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Storm” and “Decades of Differences, Making it Work,” a guide to coping with three generations in the work force. Continental asked Gronbach to speak at the meeting to discuss how dealers can position their businesses for success by knowing what’s next for their work force and the American economy, Armstrong said.