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TRIB Member Focus: Purcell Tire

I recently had the opportunity to visit TRIB's outgoing President, Brian Hayes at Purcell Tire's Potosi, Missouri headquarters. The location in Potosi includes a Goodyear Commercial Retread Plant and one of the largest OTR repair and retread facilities in the US.  

Purcell's first location was opened in 1936 by Robert M. Purcell, in Washington, Missouri. He established his second location in Granite City, Illinois, in 1951 and the third location in DeSoto, Missouri was opened in 1964 by his son, Robert G. Purcell. Under the direction of Bob and his wife Juanita, these three locations have expanded to more than 60 locations, 4 retread plants and a fleet of vehicles that provide pickup and delivery service to 47 states, Mexico and Canada. Purcell is currently ranked as the third largest independent commercial tire dealership in North America, the nation’s largest retreader for off-the-road tires and one of the 10 largest independent tire store chains in the United States. Purcell is a past winner of the Tire Dealer of the Year Award and both Bob and Juanita have been inducted into the Tire Industry Hall of Fame.

Brian and I first walked through their Goodyear Retread Plant which produces around 250 retreaded commercial truck tires per day over two shifts which run five days a week. The 80 plant employees primarily do pre-cure retreading (85%), with the remaining 15% split evenly between Unicircle pre-cure and mold-cure. They have ten CIMA presses with four presses dedicated solely to wide-base tires. Purcell is the only retreader in the Goodyear network to offer wide-base mold-cure retreading. Across their commercial retread plants, Purcell produces around 125,000 retreads per year and some of their larger customers include: Warner, Schneider, Penske, Fedex, and Yellow Freight. 

From the commercial plant we moved on to Purcell's OTR retread plant. The OTR plant operates 24 hours a day, six days a week and gets through about 110 Retreads & Repairs per day. They have three buffers, with a fourth Italmatic buffer on the way, plus over 50 molds and 6 chambers to keep the plant operating around the clock. In this plant, they can retread and repair tires up to 63" in diameter and about 35% of the retreads here are delivered to Purcell's Store Network, with the rest being delivered to other dealers. 

In the picture below with Brian and outgoing TIA President (Freda Pratt-Boyer) you can see how Purcell goes through over 8 million pounds of rubber a year. This one tire has had about 3,000 pounds of rubber applied to it. It took about one and a half hours to build and will take 24 hours to cure. 

Brian spoke some about the challenges they face in the OTR business: "Mining seems to be either boom or bust. Mining being depressed globally has made the market challenging for us but we've made some of that up on the aggregates business." In terms of challenges in the Commercial business, Brian focused on dealing with low-cost imported tires and the challenges in selling and managing retreaded tires for customers versus a new tire: "There is a lot more education and logistics required to help customers manage the retread side of their fleets compared to new tires, but the savings are significant."

Despite their massive growth, Purcell has remained a tight-knit family business and one that is very passionate about retreading and helping to improve the tire industry through participation and leadership in TIA and TRIB. Their 800 total employees spread across the five main spokes of Purcell's business: Retreading, Retail, Wholesale, Mining, and Commercial. Brian described it as a complete cradle-to-grave business, handling everything from new tires, service, repair, retreading, and recycling for every type of tire they sell. 


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