Cooper Tire & Co (NYSE: CTB) is rapidly building up its commercial business line, which was first launched two years ago with five tire lines. Today, the line includes 11 tires and continues to grow its customer base, Gary Schroeder, director of global truck and bus tire business for the company, explained to FreightWaves.
"That's pretty strong to bring up that much product in a very short period of time," Schroeder told FreightWaves during a meeting at the Technology & Maintenance Council annual meeting in Atlanta on Tuesday.
When Cooper launched the commercial line, it brought with it experience in trucking tires, having managed the Roadmaster brand popular with small fleets and owner-operators. But, it decided to build a program around a higher-quality tire that would attract fleets more concerned with technology, miles to removal, and overall lifecycle costs.
Schroeder feels confident that Cooper, which introduced three new tires in its WORK Series at the show, is accomplishing this goal as it seeks to land original equipment status at major OEMs.
"The [sales] people getting in the door [is important]," he said, "but at the end of the day, it's how the tire performs."
If the growth of the company's national accounts program is an indication, the tire is performing. Schroeder said the program, launched in 2015, is still expanding and more people are being added to service fleet customers. Still, with all the early success, it's tempting to get ahead of the sales reality, especially with the positive feedback Cooper has received with its long-haul PRO Series line introduced just eight months ago.
"The reception from fleets has been very strong, perhaps better than we anticipated," he said. "We're really happy with it. I tell the group, we're running a marathon and it takes time to talk to fleets, it takes time for fleets to evaluate the tires."
Within the PRO Series, Cooper offers the LHS (long-haul steer), LHD (long-haul drive) and LHT (long-haul trailer). The tires also come with a seven-year, two-cap warranty with full replacement value for 50% of the tread should the tire fail during the warranty period.
At TMC, two of the three new tires Cooper introduced mark its entry into the 19.5-inch tire size.
The only tire not available in the 19.5-inch size is the All-Weather Drive (AWD) tire. Specially designed for regional fleets. It will come in three sizes: 295/75R22.5 LR G, 11R22.5 LR H, and 11R24.5 LR H.
The AWD is Three-peak Mountain Snowflake certified, meaning it is designed for all-weather conditions. It was fleet tested in Canada and includes a snow groove. The tire has an open-shoulder design with tightly packed center tread blocks that are highly siped. The full-depth 3D sipes enhance traction, while interlocking to maintain tread stability while cornering.
Featuring 26/32nds of tread depth and a wide footprint for long miles to removal, the tire has wide snow groves separating the three inner tread blocks with the outside ribs, allowing snow to pack in the tire, which enhances traction, Shroeder said. The tread blocks are staggered and zig-zag to promote optimum traction in all weather conditions, while shoulder pockets provide additional traction "bite" in tough driving conditions.
Cooper has expanded into the 19.5-inch size tire with two of its new offerings in the vocational-focused WORK Series. The All-Steel, All-Position (ASA) tire and the All-Steel Drive (ASD) tires come in the new size and are geared toward Class 4-6 vehicles, which tend be smaller than Class 7-8 vehicles.
"You're seeing more and more delivery vans on the roads," Gary Schroeder, executive director of Cooper's Global Truck and Bus Tire Business, told FreightWaves.
Like all Cooper commercial tires, the ASA and ASD include two retreads and full replacement for the first 50% of tread life.
The ASA features 17/32nds of tread depth in a five-rib pattern. The steer position tire can also be used as a drive tire when traction is not a requirement. The tire includes special scrub resistant compounding and all-steel casing construction. A special curb bar and stone ejectors combine to resist hazards commonly found in urban deliveries, while aisle sipes, near the edge of the tire, help in controlling irregular wear.
The tire also features Cooper's unique Wear Square treadwear indicators, which are squares on the tire's shoulder ribs that show the tread depth through five different evolving image icons.
The ASD is also an all-steel tire. The drive tire features 18/32nds of tread depth in a four-rib, open-shoulder design. Special compounding allows the tire to withstand damage and tread loss from scrubbing, curbing, and rapid starts and stops.
The WORK Series ASD tire is Three Peak Mountain Snowflake certified, "meaning, it was engineered and verified to provide outstanding all-weather performance," said Schroeder.
The tire was designed for long miles to removal and is retreadable.
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