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AI speaks to Michael Kapral, the new president and chief executive officer of Amerityre Corporation.

Amerityre Corporation, one of the leading proponents of ‘flat-free’ tire technologies underwent a major restructuring exercise in April this year. The company’s president and chief executive officer Gary Benninger stepped down and was replaced with Michael Kapral, Amerityre’s president of marketing. This marked a shift in the company’s strategy. 

“Gary has worked hard to put the company in a position to begin manufacturing and selling solid polyurethane forklift tires. Now, with Mike taking the reins, we expect his knowledge and experience in the tire and tire product markets will launch those tires successfully,” said Louis Haynie, chairman of Amerityre’s board of directors.

Amerityre develops and makes tires for a number of applications. The company’s low-speed foam tires – Flatfree™, are aimed at low speed and utility vehicles. Its tire fill, blends eco-friendly tire fill materials of both closed cell foam and elastomer polyurethane materials to flat-proof rubber tires. The foam, which is similar to the foam used in our foam tires, is used for low to medium-load applications, while the elastomer is used in medium to high-load applications. The foam fill material allows users to reduce cost and weight compared to other tire fills currently in use. 

“All Amerityre materials can be recycled or disposed of without fear of environmental contamination. Other elastomer tire fills incorporate oils as fillers to reduce the cost of the product. These oils can cause serious environmental problems; since over time, they can leach out of the fill material and damage the tire causing it to leak. Even worse, the oil filled material presents a serious disposal problem at the end of the life of the product. Some state and national governments are currently considering legislation that could ban use of the current oil filled materials due to their negative environmental impact,” says the company. 

Amerityre also makes solid tires which use long-wearing polyurethane rather than rubber which makes it simpler and cheaper to manufacture. The company also makes composite tires where polyurethane treads of new and used rubber casings are used. The company says that this technology has opened markets for new tires having unique tread designs and has simplified the retreading for used tires.

Amerityre Corporation was founded in 1995 as American Tire Corporation. The first products developed and sold by the new company were polyurethane foam tires based on the company’s proprietary chemical formulation technology. Since the tires were fabricated using a closed cell polyurethane material, they could never go flat. Thus, the company registered the Flatfree™ trade mark for this product. 

The company’s name was changed to Amerityre Corporation in 1999 and four years later, the company developed its polyurethane Elastothane™ elastomer technology. “This technology would allow us to ultimately develop a comprehensive line of tires and tire products based on polyurethane instead of rubber. These products include tire fill, solid tires, composite tires and pneumatic passenger vehicle tires. In April 2004 we successfully completed testing to Federal Motor Safety Vehicle Standard (FMVSS) 109 with our Arcus™ design passenger car tire and in November 2007 successfully completed testing to the new FMVSS 139 specification,” says the company. 

Currently, the challenge facing the Nevada-headquartered Amerityre, is the crisis in the automotive industry. Like all other tire manufacturers, Amerityre faces falling demand in the current recessionary climate.

Automotive Industries spoke to Michael Kapral, the new president and chief executive officer of Amerityre Corporation.

AI: What are some of the immediate challenges you face after taking over from Gary Benninger?
In the past we have been a research and development company with the goal of manufacturing tires using urethane technology. We have developed many different products for different applications for the tire industry. Now we are at a point the technologies need to become marketable. The immediate challenge is to increase sales through the introduction of our years of R&D. The global economic climate has certainly hurt us with reduced demand with our customers and our goal continues to bring to the market the technologies we have developed over the years.

AI: Bigger tire companies than yours are facing a marked slump in sales – how do you expect Amerityre to fare in this scenario?
We continue to introduce new sizes and products into the market. We continue to complete the testing of our different products for the tire Industry and will make them available over the course of the next year. Being that our technology is so different from the traditional rubber tire business I feel the market is ready for something new and different. As we introduce new polyurethane products into the market this will increase our business. We are now completing the testing on our polyurethane forklift tires and will be manufacturing them over the next quarter of the year. We will have a complete line available by the end of the year.

AI: Do you think the eco-friendliness of your products will give Amerityre an edge?
Yes I do. With the Obama administration now in charge and the new MPG requirements for Auto makers coming soon there is a huge push for eco-friendly products. There is a huge opportunity for us as our products have lower rolling resistance which offers improved gas mileage and also are environmentally safe unlike today’s rubber products which leach toxic poisons into the ground and water system. Disposal continues to be problematic and expensive for tire dealers as well. All of our products do not have the disposal issue.

AI: Tell us a little about the five tire and tire product markets Amerityre is focusing on in which to push its Elostothane™ polyurethane tire technologies.
We currently have five technologies for tire product markets in various stages of marketability. We have polyurethane foam tires for the lawn and garden market, utility hand truck, bicycles, and agriculture.
Tire fill which is a great product for flat proofing. A flat tire causes numerous issues and downtime which creates huge production and monetary losses for companies. Customers operating machines in such conditions where the potential for flat tires is all but a matter of “when and not if” the tire goes flat understand the benefits of this product.
Solid Tires are going to be a huge business for us. Our forklift tires will be in production by the next quarter. We are testing skid steer tires now and have several sets running in different applications. The advantage of these tires is the fact they are non-marking.

Retreading is another technology we hope to have marketable by the middle of the next year. We continue to test our urethane retreading system. We have made significant advances over the past year. We plan on entering the OTR retreading business first with this technology before moving into the truck tire business.

Our car tire has passed all the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards last year. We continue to “tweak” the tire for maximum performance. We are completing the engineering process for mass production which will take us into the next year. At that point we will be looking at making the tire commercially available with the help of a joint venture partner.

AI: What will be your strategy in the solid tires, composite tires and pneumatic tires segments?
Our current strategy will be to work with dealer customers who have a strong interest in understanding the value and the future of the tire industry. We know it is a big job to change people’s perception specifically with a new product and a technology so foreign to people in this 100 year old industry. When we introduce a new product into the market we want to know firsthand how it will perform. We will have spent hours on engineering testing and then “real world testing”. The proof will be the performance. We feel that with the performance we achieve and the environmental benefit our products offer we can gain acceptance into the market.

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