TN: At the close of last year, U.S. Xpress, the fifth largest publicly-owned truckload carrier in the United States, signed an expansive, six-year agreement with Bandag to handle its tire management n...
TN: At the close of last year, U.S. Xpress, the fifth largest publicly-owned truckload carrier in the United States, signed an expansive, six-year agreement with Bandag to handle its tire management needs. Can you outline when you believe such outsourcing of tire management practices makes sense for a truck fleet?
Filer: There is a lot of interest in our total tire management outsourcing program from fleets. The key is to understand the current situation in the fleet. That’s a challenge.
Where are the fleet’s costs on tires and what’s included in those costs? What kind of controls are there? What are the maintenance and disposal practices? What casings go into what applications?
There’s so much to know before going into a total outsourcing arrangement that a lot of groundwork needs to be done before any kind of outsourcing proposal is made.
One of the reasons we are able to offer an outsourcing option such as this is our dealer network and the way it is aligned with Bandag.
Our dealer network works very hard to make outsourcing work and there is a lot of interaction among Bandag and the dealers and fleets involved.
TN: You’ve spoken about the importance of your dealer network. How has that network evolved over the past 10 years and how would you like to see it continue to grow?
Filer: Probably one the biggest misconceptions that exist in the industry today is what really takes place inside the four walls of a retread plant. Whenever I take a fleet customer through a plant tour it always turns out to be a huge eye-opener for them.
It’s a very important component of moving fleet owners and operators from looking at a tire as a round hunk of rubber to recognizing it as their tire asset.
Not only have our dealers invested heavily in their retread plant capabilities but Bandag has invested a significant amount of money in research and development and improvements in the retread process and the products are perfect examples of the impact from that.
Our dealers across Canada have been making ongoing investments in retread plant capabilities, IT capabilities, and people capabilities not only inside the retread plants but also in the people dealing with our fleet customers.
We are also driving toward corporately having our franchised dealers ISO certified.
Most of the dealers are in the process of being ISO certified. ISO certification results after the dealer puts in place repeatable, auditable processes that assure the fleet customer of consist level of quality.
TN: Is there a growing understanding about the role of retreading among legislators as well?
Filer: We don’t see a lot of activity in terms of government involvement in Canada. In the States we hear more about it.
We are very fortunate to have a great advocate in the Tire Retread Information Bureau (TRIB) and Harvey Brodsky.
There are a lot of misperceptions about our business. We have a real challenge and opportunity for education.
TN: What do you see as the major changes in terms of retreading technology and tire design over the next decade?
Filer: I see retreading continuing to play as important a role in reducing fleet costs as today. Retreading is a very integral part to a successful tire management program.
To get the most value out of your tire assets you have to retread them.