Starco developing specialist tyre aftermarket sales
2011 promises to be an exciting year for one of Europe’s major suppliers of specialist and industrial tyres the Starco Group, according to Group marketing manager Brian Lorentzen. Since the onset of the recession at the end of 2008, Lorentzen says Starco’s strategy has been to trim its organisation – “both to weather the financial storm and to prepare the company for the future. It is natural that we have focused on reducing operating costs throughout the group; by reducing unnecessary stock levels and by cutting expenditure on those activities which do not relate to our core business.” All this, of course needed to be achieved “without reducing the company’s ability to innovate and operate, and without impacting the customer satisfaction on which our current and future business depends,” as Lorentzen acknowledges.
“One of the issues we were quick to address was our aftermarket logistics – moving components from our manufacturing sites to the OEM assembly line or the tyre shop as quickly as possible. Maintaining and improving our reputation as a dependable supplier whilst improving our internal working processes and becoming more efficient was vital – not only to protect existing customer relationships in a time of crisis, but also to secure new business as the recession lifted. Now, as we see the market recovering and beginning to grow once more, we are harvesting the benefit of having a response time that sets the standard for our industry; in looking beyond the simple question of survival during a recession we have gained the advantage and the proof is to be seen in our sales results for 2011. Our improved efficiency and lower operating costs give us a competitive edge that shows on the bottom line – giving us additional economic resources which we are now investing in product and market development.”
Starco’s business in 2011 is achieving better results than it had expected: “We set ourselves the modest target of a 15 per cent increase on Group turnover compared to last year, but already in the first quarter of 2011 we have achieved a 40 per cent growth – and it’s satisfying that this growth stems primarily from those business segments that we selected when we formulated our new group strategy at the end of last year. This growth is due to both new customers and increased sales volume and the sale of new products to existing customers,” explains Lorentzen.
The group’s strategy for 2010-2014 is looking to the agricultural original equipment and aftermarket for expansion, with a target of 200 million euros in 2014, compared to 100 million in 2009. “We expect half of this turnover to come from aftermarket sales, with the remainder generated by our five OE segments, continues Lorentzen. “As we expand our activities and commitment to the agricultural OEM segment, we will maintain our market position in the other segments – internal transportation [meaning hand-pulled implements like wheelbarrows and pallet trucks], horticultural, trailer and caravan. Starco remains the market leader in supplying wheels and tyres (both as separate components and assembled units) to the major trailer and caravan manufacturers in Europe – a market position underpinned by Starco’s own high-speed wheels and our European OEM distribution agreements with GiTi on KargoMax.”
Joint-developed Kenda industrial forklift tyre a hit with users
As part of a general distribution agreement for the entire European market, Starco has now sold the Kenda K610 Kinetics in its industrial forklift tyre segment for four years. This agreement was penned in 2007 as the companies celebrated 25 years of trading. “As we near our 30th anniversary, we can look back on a fruitful cooperation… the Kenda K610 Kinetics pneumatic FLT tyre – released to market in 2008, was one of our most important joint-development projects,” Lorentzen says. The main market for the Kinetics today is in the aftermarket, where the tyre is sold mainly to dealers, fleet owners and FLT service providers.
“Having sold the K610 for four years, we have ample customer feedback to confirm that this is an excellent tyre with a good flexible tread pattern and a strong and durable construction due to a well-designed carcass and sidewall. The K610 can handle heavy use, loading and manoeuvring on a wide range of trucks and in a variety of application environments. The K610 tread pattern has proven itself in environments such as steel mills, handling large loads in high temperature conditions. By siping the tyre (cutting additional diagonal pattern lines into the raised tread blocks) we can achieve even greater grip and flexibility – attributes that also have a benefit in other working environments such as sawmills, where good grip and improved self-cleaning characteristics are valued. Similarly, the K610 is also a respected tyre in dockside applications, where high loading and tight manoeuvring are commonplace. It is our experience that the K610 has become the chosen tyre for many fork lift truck operators who recognise the value of a hard-wearing, long-lasting and reliable tyre,” says Lorentzen.
Several users of the K610 Kinetic on the Swedish market, visited by the sales staff at Starco Sweden just before Easter, have given positive feedback on the tyre: Roger Johansson of Kalmar Cargotec said “on our previous tyres we got between 800-1,000 hours of service. With Kenda we get up to 5000 hours.” Jonas at Alvesta Regummering was impressed with the tyre’s ease of fitment, while Timo at AP däckservice had “nothing to complain about”. Peter, of Skinnskatteberg Bilplåt AB summed up the importance of the tyre’s capabilities: “I get paid by the hour, so long life is very important to me. The Kenda tyres have very even wear… I can retread the Kinetics tyres twice due to the carcass quality.”