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What’s in a name?

March 31, 2003
Filed under Features

ITP has been in the ATV tire business for 20 years. It built a brand name with tires such as the Blackwater and the Holeshot, two of the best-known products in the ATV aftermarket.
When Pennsylvania-based Carlisle Companies acquired ITP in 1999, ITP gained the resources of a diverse, international manufacturing giant. ITP had contracted with some of Carlisle’s tire manufacturing facilities before the acquisition. When it became part of the company, ITP gained direct access to all of Carlisle’s manufacturing resources.
“We were more of a middle man before the acquisition,” said Craig Petersen, general manager of ITP Tires, “and now ITP is a manufacturer.”
ITP’s manufacturing resources increased in April 2000 when Carlisle acquired the Titan Consumer Products Division, including the Titan tire manufacturing plant in Clinton, Tenn. This also increased the confusion for consumers and retailers, however, because the new Carlisle/ITP did not acquire all of the Titan brand.
Lengthy business history
Titan Tire International is a much older company than ITP — it entered the wheel business in 1897 — but has been in the tire business for just 10 years. In 1993, Titan purchased what was then the Dyneer Corporation manufacturing facility in Clinton, Tenn., rolling into the manufacture of tires for ATVs, lawn tractors and more. The manufacturer’s reach quickly broadened. The Titan name now appears on a wide range of agricultural and commercial tires as well as ATV tires.
Titan Tire International maintains tire manufacturing facilities in Iowa, Mississippi and Texas, and continues to market its own ATV tires, some of which have model names similar to ITP tires.
In 2001, Carlisle generated record revenues of $1.849 billion. Its products range from commercial roofing systems to specialty trailers, from off-road tires and wheels to cable for high-tech data communications. Titan Tire International reported net sales for the year ended December 31, 2001, at $457.5 million.
Following Carlisle’s acquisition of two Titan facilities (Carlisle attained a wheel plant in Slinger, Wisc., along with the Tennessee facility), Titan Tire Int’l. decided to remain in the ATV tire business.
“Part of our agreement with Carlisle,” says Dan Degoey, OEM account manager for Titan Tire International in Des Moines, Iowa, “is that we would no longer go after OEM business for a period of time.” But Titan remained in the ATV aftermarket business, following the success of two tire models in particular: the 489 utility tire and the Turf Tamer sport tire.
Titan developed news molds for its 489 XT and 589 MT utility tires, Degoey says, while ITP has molds for tires branded AT489, AT589 and Turf Tamer. Furthermore, as a result of the Titan acquisition, Carlisle and ITP also possess the HD Field Trax, AT471, AT101 and Trail Claw II models.
At the same time, Carlisle continues to manufacture Titan-branded versions of the 489 for sale to ATV manufacturers like Polaris and Arctic Cat. “We have an agreement that we can use the Titan name on some OEM tires for five years,” says Rhett Turpin, Carlisle ATV Product Manager (who used to work for Titan Tire). This agreement allows Carlisle to efficiently work with the ATV manufacturers through the brand-name transition.
“We are gradually switching over from the Titan name,” says Turpin, “to the Carlisle name within that five-year deal.” Turpin was quick to point out that Titan is still a customer of the Carlisle Companies and ITP. “We still make some tires for Titan here,” says Turpin. “They’re a valued customer, as all customers are, and we’ll continue to work with them.”
Degoey agrees, and says that the only real issue for Titan at this point is the occasional warranty claim. “We have received calls from consumers with warranty questions,” says Degoey, “and they called us because the tires say Titan, but they may not be ours.”
The Turf Tamer brand name is another that Titan values but Carlisle and ITP now own. Degoey said that Titan is working on a new Turf Tamer II tire design, though he didn’t say when the product would be available for sale. In the meantime, Carlisle knows the tire is important to the market, even though ITP has its own complete line of Holeshot sport tires.
With similar product names, the Titan/ITP/Carlisle name issue could continue to confuse consumers, but the manufacturers are working to distinguish the correct product ownership with their brand name-conversion process and continued marketing efforts.

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