Tyre Fill Industrial Espionage in South Africa

OTR tyre supplier the Roesler Group is considering legal action after allegations of industrial espionage were made against competitor, the US-based Carpenter Co, in South Africa.

Tyres & Accessories has seen security tapes, which the Roelser group alleges show Carpenter Co executives, bribing their way into a Benoni, South Africa, tyre plant. Copies of the original footage are believed to depict executives touring the Quality Tyres facility and examining prototype technology the company was testing on behalf of the German-based Roesler Group. According to the recordings, two men spent 20 minutes on the premises taking photographs and touring the Benoni, plant before leaving.

The Roesler Group reports that the executives in question are Carpenter Ltd (Carpenter Co’s UK division) general manager, Geoff Grindley, and an unnamed ex-Quality Tyres managing director, who now works for one of the company’s competitors. According to sources neither gentleman was invited to the facility. Carpenter Co is one of the world’s leading suppliers of foam products including industrial tyre sealants, and also one of the Roesler Group’s leading competitors in the industrial sealant foam business.

The security recording date-code shows that the alleged incident took place on 21 May between 16:06 and 16:26. Roesler representatives confirm that Quality Tyres informed the German business of the alleged unauthorised visit on the 22 May.

Following the incident, the ex-Quality tyres managing director is said to have cooperated with the South African police enquiry. The original security tapes are now believed to be in the hands of the South African police force and part of the law-enforcement agency’s ongoing investigations.

In light of the allegations, the Roesler Group reports that it is examining the legal options available to it, including the possibility that it could sue Carpenter Co before the European Court of Justice.

When T&A contacted Carpenter Co, representatives from the company’s legal department stated: “[Carpenter Co] categorically denies the various allegations that have been asserted against it and Mr Grindley and we will take appropriate legal action to enforce our respective rights as may be necessary,” adding “Carpenter Co does not conduct its business in the press.”

Prototype technology

According to the Roesler Group, the prototype technology in question was the latest generation of the company’s Triofill product. The original product has been on the market for 30 years and acts as a sealant, protecting OTR tyres from punctures. In that time a number of competing products have come onto the market offering similar results. What these sealants have in common is the way they are applied. They are generally introduced to the tyre through the valve core as a liquid, forming sealant foam once inside the tyre. These ‘first generation’ sealants therefore have the disadvantage that they can only be used once.

The Dortmund-based Roelser Group claims that it has solved both of these problems with its latest product, through a combination of chemistry and engineering. Now, according to Paul Roesler senior, the new product allows users to apply the foam as normal. However, by virtue of a special new compound and purpose-designed pump, the foam can now be returned to a liquid form for re-use, says Mr Roesler. According to Mr Roesler, the company deliberately opted to test the new technology with the help of Quality Tyres colleagues in South Africa in order to safeguard it from imitation.

In the meantime T&A, in cooperation with its editorial partners in Southern Africa (Southern Africa Treads) and the US (Tire Review) will keep readers informed of all the developments in this breaking news story.

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