Triangle Tire ready to get rolling in China
As he toured the Triangle Tyre Co Ltd facilities in China in 2015, tire industry veteran Manny Cicero felt a sense of déjà vu.
“I started a long time ago with Bridgestone when it was a largely unknown Japanese company,” he recalled.
“When I went to Japan and saw the Bridgestone facilities for the first time, I was amazed and realized that this company has potential,” he said. “I had a similar feeling when I went to Triangle in China.”
Cicero is now the CEO of Triangle Tire USA, a start-up subsidiary of Triangle Tyre Group in China, a wellknown tire manufacturer on the mainland for 40 years. Although it has been selling its line of tire products in the US for some time, Cicero said the company is making a major push in the US market to become a global brand.
“If you want to build a global brand you better be in the US,” said Cicero.
Last year, Triangle established its American headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee, outside of Nashville, after opening a technical center in Akron, Ohio, in 2011.
Now all of Triangle’s factories are in China. “We are looking at building a plant outside of China, but there has been no commitment yet on where it will be located,” Cicero said.
The Franklin headquarters staff is at about seven right now. “We hope to go to about 20 employees by the end of the year,” said Cicero.
The Akron center serves as a research and development facility that employs 10 engineers to “help us develop better products for the North American market”, added Cicero.
Triangle offers full lineup of tire products. Triangle Tire USA will market medium/heavy truck tires, as well as passenger and light truck tires, including ultra-high-performance, winter and specialty trailer tires. The company also offers off-the-road tires for the construction and mining industries.
Cicero said the company is changing its US distribution strategy. Previously it relied on third-party representatives to market its tires. That model “wasn’t sustainable for long-term growth and brand building.”
“We are now looking for distribution partners who want to co-invest with us in building the Triangle brand,” Cicero said.
He said ideal partners would include tire retailers and commercial dealers with multiple outlets.
Cicero has been meeting with key US tire distributors to discuss how Triangle can help expand their business. The company aims to attract quality distributors “and to support them in marketing and sales to help build the Triangle brand.”
Cicero said that while he was at the Triangle facilities in China, he realized that it was a sophisticated company with modern factories and an outstanding product lineup.
“When you see Triangle in China, you realize this shouldn’t be a lowpriced tire. This company makes quality products that offer real value,” he said.
When you see Triangle in China, you realize this shouldn’t be a lowpriced tire.”