Equipment World took the opportunity during a recent tour of BKT Industries’ massive new tire plant in Bhuj, India, to sit down with Rajiv Poddar, BKT joint managing director, and discuss present opportunities and future moves.
The $500 million plant in Bhuj has 72 acres under roof and features a 25-acre outdoor test track. It will house a 30,000-square-foot research and development center later this year.
Equipment World: How do you distinguish yourself in the North American market?
Poddar: We have been providing agricultural tires in the United States for almost 10 years and we enjoy a 14 to 16 percent market share in that segment. We want to grow our construction and mining segment to similar levels in the near future. We might not have the cheapest tires, but we will be competitive while delivering quality tires to our customers in the U.S. market.
To continue our support of the U.S. market, we will work through best-in-class dealers. We do not plan on selling directly to end users, and we will never compete with our independent dealers.
At the beginning of this decade, we set a strategic objective to achieve leadership in the worldwide off-highway tire market. Our Bhuj plant has enabled us to play a completely new game from the perspective of exponential growth.
EQW: Are you seeing any tire demand issues developing in North America or globally?
Poddar: We know that the tire market will ebb and flow, and we’re looking for long term growth. We’ve gained enormous potential thanks to our increased production capabilities in Bhuj. We see an opportunity with the mid-priced tires that is not being filled by other OTR tire manufacturers. We want to fill that void, and we want to provide a lower total cost per hour.
EQW: Why do you manufacture your tires just in India?
Poddar: Our primary ingredients are so close here. We get rubber and other materials from India, Indonesia and other locations close by. In addition, the quality people that we can employ here is big advantage. We have also placed our new Bhuj plant near a major seaport so we can quickly ship all over the world.
EQW: Tell us about your involvement with Monster Jam.
Poddar: This is the first time we’ve sponsored a show on a large scale. We’ve designed purpose-built Monster Jam tires for all of their trucks, responding to driver requests for tires that were lighter, had more flexion and better bounce. The tires we made are half the weight of the previous tires. Monster Jam allows people from all over the world to see the BKT brand in action.
Founded in 1954, BKT Industries started manufacturing tires in 1987, entering the radial agricultural tire segment in 2004. Since 2008, it has manufactured off-the-road all-steel radial tires, ranging from 17.5 inches to 49 inches in diameter. It plans to introduce a 51-inch tire in 2016.