Malatesta Pneumatici – A Belief in Retreads
Although the Malatesta name may not be as widely-known as the brands owned and promoted by the major new tyre manufacturers, the company behind this Italian produced range of retreads, Malatesta Pneumatici, boasts a long and solid history. The firm was founded in Rome shortly after the end of the Second World War, at a time when new tyres were in short supply and any means of keeping existing tyres on the road was highly valued. Company founder Alberto Malatesta built Malatesta Pneumatici into a strong player in the Italian retreading scene before handing control of the business over to eldest son Massimiliano. Today a third generation of the family is also contributing to the future of Malatesta Pneumatici.
The company relocated from Rome to a site in Anagni, some forty kilometers south, in 1993, and at its facility there Malatesta Pneumatici now retreads a very respectable 280,000 tyres per annum. Unusually for a retreader these days, the majority of these – around 50 per cent – are passenger car tyres. But as Matteo Malatesta, who is responsible for sales and production, told Tyres & Accessories in an interview, the Malatesta product portfolio also covers 4×4, truck, industrial and even motorsport tyres and is constantly being enhanced with the addition of new products.
“Our passenger car range is very wide, with many sizes and patterns for both summer and winter,” states Mr. Malatesta. “We offer PCR in 13 to 17-inch rim sizes and up to W and V speed ratings. We have also tested an entirely new product in this segment, run-flat tyres. We are now ready to retread run-flats in three key sizes.” The passenger car retreads Malatesta Pneumatici offers are not restricted to on-road products, however. As Matteo Malatesta shares, for the last four years the company has also produced rally tyres, which are now exported to Germany, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Greece and Mexico. The rally tyres feature three exclusive competition-specific compounds (soft, medium and hard) and are available in five sizes to suit 13 to 15-inch rims. “Many races have been won using our rally tyres,” notes Malatesta with pride.
Another consumer tyre segment proving a growth area for Malatesta Pneumatici is 4×4 tyres. “Sales of 4×4 tyres are growing and growing,” Matteo Malatesta confirms. “Therefore we are looking for yet another casing supplier. The 4×4 market has become an important sector for the company. Quality is of course of great importance to us, and customers are very happy with our product.” A total of ten tread patterns for on-road, off-road and mixed use are available, and winter tyres have also recently been added to the company’s 4×4 product range.
Such is the quality of the company’s truck tyres, reports Malatesta, that in Italy and Spain a range of bead-to-bead retreaded truck tyres for agricultural trailers are even sold to manufacturers of new trailers where they are fitted as original equipment. Overall, around 60 per cent of the truck tyres Malatesta Pneumatici produces are of the mould-cure variety, and the remainder pre-cured. For its pre-cure retreading, the company has worked closely with Kraiburg for the last 25 years; the Austrian firm supplies Malatesta Pneumatici with specialised compounds for the pre-cure process.
The industrial tyre segment is, says Matteo Malatesta, “a growing niche market. Sales have doubled every year for the last three years.” A key product in this sector is the ‘Hyperelastik’ range of solid tyres for forklifts. The technology used in this product, developed by company president Massimiliano Malatesta – whom Matteo describes as the “Leonardo da Vinci of the Malatesta group” – is perhaps unique: Hyperelastik tyres are manufactured using the pre-cure method but are bead-to-bead retreads, as opposed to shoulder-to-shoulder. The end result is a much stronger and durable product. The inclusion of a retreaded sidewall also enhances appearances. The Hyperelastik range is available in 8 to 20-inch rim sizes and is now also produced with a non-marking white tread. While on the topic of industrial tyres, Mr. Malatesta also mentions that the company has designed its own new tread pattern for a forklift application will launch this in 2010.
Currently 40 per cent of Malatesta Pneumatici’s products are exported. In total, the company boasts ten export markets, mostly in Europe. Mexico, comments Matteo, has also been a strong export market, although recent dollar weakness did create some pressure there. Malatesta Pneumatici aims to begin exporting to another ten new overseas markets within the next three to four years.
The factory in Anagni employs approximately 40 people and produces tyres both under the Malatesta brand name and for customers using private brand names. As can be expected, Malatesta Pneumatici extensively uses MAE retreading supplies, produced by M.I.G. – another company to emerge from the business founded by Alberto Malatesta in 1946. A sense of kinship can also be observed in the company’s management: While Massimiliano Malatesta remains president of Malatesta Pneumatici, son Matteo confirms he is “gradually taking on more responsibility” within the firm. The role he plays within the company will continue to grow over the next few years, he adds.
For the third generation of Malatesta involved in the family business, product quality is paramount and the reason why Malatesta Pneumatici has earned a good reputation and a good name in Italy’s retreading market. “We believe in retreads,” states Matteo Malatesta in conclusion. “If you know how to do it and have the right technology, you can produce the same quality as new tyres. That is why we continue to be successful. If you choose the right company, you will notice the quality.”