[dropcap]T[/dropcap]hailand is one of the world’s leading producers of natural rubber, so it only makes sense that they should be a leader in tire production at least that is how Vee Rubber sees it. From raw materials to finished products, the Thai tire company has been winning the battle to become a market leader and now produces more than 25 million tires a year, ranging from small go-kart tires to massive commercial truck tires.
“Vee Rubber has their own rubber plantations,” explains John Leale, VP of sales and marketing for the American operation. “I think the thing that sets us apart from other tire companies is that we not only have great technology, but also a true understanding of rubber compounds.” Based in Thailand, Vee Rubber is a relatively new player in the high stakes U.S. powersports tire game, but it is well established in multiple markets around the globe.
CEO Vitorn Sukanjanapong launched Vee Rubber in 1977, manufacturing bicycle and motorcycle tires and tubes. Sales quickly spread throughout Asia, Western Europe, the Latin American countries, and finally the U.S. and Canada. Now employing more than 4,000 people, Vee Rubber has nearly a dozen branches situated all over the world. With stringent quality control standards in place, the company’s reputation for manufacturing and superior service is well recognized. In fact, Vee Rubber Group is now an OEM supplier (including to a couple of the Japanese OEMs). The company has certifications from many regulatory agencies around the globe, including the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Thai Industrial Standards Institute (TISI).
Vee Rubber operates three large manufacturing facilities on the outskirts of Bangkok. The combined annual production exceeds 25 million tires, and there is even more capacity if needed. Sales have steadily increased during the past five years, generating annual revenue in excess of $75 million. Approximately 90 percent of the tires produced are for export, making
Vee Rubber an important part of Thailand’s economy.
“Vee Rubber utilizes its resources from other industries to create tires that are both innovative and affordable,” explains Leale, a tire industry veteran. “With access to our automotive R&D team, Vee Rubber seeks to bring in technology and concepts that haven’t been used by the motorcycle guys before. We are also pretty quick to bring new products to market.” That is an understatement! When the fat tire craze took off, Vee Rubber was first to introduce a full range of “Monster” meats for the rear. From 120s all the way up through the 360/30 R18, Vee Rubber still offers the largest selection of larger rear tires. Ditto for front hoops. The company was the first to offer 23” tires and first again with the 26” tall tire for the Bagger builders.
As trikes took off, Vee Rubber was ready with a purpose-built tire. “The Zilent is the only dedicated trike tire in the marketplace,” says Leale. “It saves the service department from wasting time attempting to source automotive tires. Our specially formulated trike tire compound makes for extraordinary mileage, excellent service in wet and dry conditions and gives a smooth, quiet ride.”When Can-Am announced it had sold 100,000 of its Spyder three-wheelers, Vee Rubber was the first to offer an alternative to the OEM’s “only game in town” tire monopoly.
Vee Rubber’s Arachnid Touring rear tire is specially designed for the Spyder, featuring a high load rating for passengers and luggage, and has an improved sidewall construction for better stability. “We saw that many Spyder riders are like Gold Wingers and needed a tire designed to handle a heavier load,” Leale adds. “With our R&D team’s quick turn-around time, we were able to release the Arachnid Touring tire in record time!”
It is the same for the off-road market as they have brought out everything from a sticky trials type compound for woods riders (the Tackee) to a very specific vintage MX tire. Vee Rubber’s VRM-109 Vintage MX tires are designed exclusively for vintage motocrossers. These tires combine vintage looks with up-to-date technology. The VRM-109’s tall tire profiles provide an authentic classic look, while the knob pattern is designed in the timeless ‘70s appearance.
As a former Speedway and flat track standout, the fact that Vee Rubber still believes in the “Win On Sunday, Sell On Monday” mantra appeals to Leale. “The Vee Rubber Group realizes that racing improves the breed, and active participation in all forms of motorsports provide data and real time experience for research and development,” he says. This also provides a higher brand awareness, and is a key foundation of the Vee Rubber Group philosophy.
This also explains why you will find Leale at the track on any Sunday (Saturdays too for the GNCC amateur ranks and the pro motocross ranks alike). “We support as many grassroots racers and local series as we possibly can,” he says emphatically. “We are looking to create lifetime customers.” Hence an emphasis on the youth market and other strategic initiatives in North America. “Our ultimate goal is to ensure customer satisfaction through quality, value
Producing superior products and supporting racing? Sounds like a win-win to us!