Dr. K.V Tolin
Dr. K.V TolinChairman/ Managing Director Tolins Tyre

ON GLOBAL FAST TRACK

An upcoming tyre and retread major hailing from Kerala, the heartland of Indian natural rubber, Tolins Tyres is currently on a major expansion spree. With a view to reinforcing its foothold in the global market, the company has recently entered into a strategic joint venture with an Ukranian company and acquired land in Sri Lanka for a greenfield facility besides targeting to spread out operations in Australia and some unrepresented areas in Europe and Africa.

Located on a sprawling 50-acre area on the beautiful banks of river Periyar in the evergreen South Indian State of Kerala is Tolins Tyres, India’s fast-growing tyre and retread manufacturer. Over the last three decades and more, the Tolins Group of companies has earned and maintained an excellent track record on the strength of its superior quality products and highly dependable services. Not surprisingly, it has earned a pride of place in the global tyre and retreads industry thanks to its expertise and vast knowledge base in both rubber and tyre.

COVER STORY – A Saj Mathews  RUBBER ASIA 2012 SEP-OCT

The Group has established itself as a major tyre retreading solutions provider across India and as many as 40 foreign countries, including the Middle East, East Africa, Jordan, Israel, Kenya, Syria and Egypt. Notably, Tolins is the first Indian retread brand to enter and survive in the toughest and most competitive American market for pre-cured retreading products.

Quality, durability, technology, value and international standards converge at Tolin’s manufacturing plants in India and abroad. An excellent track record in the manufacturing and marketing of tyres and accessories, well-knit dealer network across the country and commendable customer support are some of the strong fundamentals of this com-pany. “OUR TYRES ARE BLACK, STILL GREEN” claims Dr K V Tolin, the young but seasoned Managing Director of Tolins Group, highlighting its green manufacturing practices and concern for the environment.

The growth trajectory

Founded in 1982 as an SSI unit by the great visionary late K P. Varkey, foreseeing the prospects in retreads, the Group has gone a long way ahead in expanding its core business.  Getting inspired from the family-manned paddy cultivations and the conventional methods of processing rice during 1960’s, Varkey was the pioneer in starting a rice mill in Kalady, which has now emerged as the biggest rice producing cluster in Kerala. Taking into account the market requirements and the technological advancements, he established a number of processing units which later helped the Tolins Group to scale great heights.

Dr K. V. Tolin, the only son of late Varkey, has ever been an integral part of the Tolins Group. With the great entrepreneurial legacy and hands-on experience which he inherited working side by side with his visionary father and with his own intrinsic talents and marketing acumen, Dr. Tolin is presently leading the Group which is growing from strength to strength. He is taking the business to greater heights by conceiving and implementing the latest marketing techniques and revamping the production lines.

Says Dr Tolin: “Our Group’s long-standing experience combined with our innovative R&D, strong marketing as well as dealer network, will surely provide for its fast-track organic and inorganic progression.” True, over a short span of time, the Group has succeeded in developing Tolins Tyres into one of the leading rubber products and tyre manufacturing companies in the country with production facilities both in India and abroad.

Priorities and focus

At present, 30% of Tolin’s production is devoted to addressing the export requirements. “Our set out goals and propositions are aimed at helping us stay ahead in the tyre retreading materials sector and expanding their exports by maximizing capacity utilization and capacity expansion,” says Dr Tolin. In the domestic market the company has a solid client base comprising major State Public Sector Units (STUs).

Infrastructural expansions are currently on for doubling the production of tyres to meet the extensive demand in the domestic and international markets, he said, adding that region-specific characteristics such as climate, driving habits, road conditions etc. are taken into account while improvisations are made in product compositions so as to address these diverse markets. Additional investments are channelled for new moulds and development of compounds. “We have also opened up sales in the US market recently and are now procuring special moulds to develop patterns for the US market,” he told Rubber Asia

Tolins is going full blast with its new tyre venture too. The company is manufacturing bias ply tyres in its Kalady plant. “We are in the midst of venturing into the manufacturing of new sizes as, due to increasing radialization in India, these sizes are becoming scare in the market. We are viewing this as an opportunity,” Tolins says, adding that the company does not have plans to manufacture radial tyres in the future as bias ply demand itself is a great interim opportunity.

“Expanding the dealer networks in the domestic market and opening up exclusive shops in niche areas are our priorities. The quality of treads coming out from our plants is of world standards. However, in order to cater to the fullest satisfaction of our customers, we are in the process of setting up a state-of-the-art-retreading machinery manufacturing division to standardize the bonding process, and a training centre for imparting awareness on quality retreading practices,” Dr Tolin says, explaining the company’s immediate priorities and focus.

The company’s turnover has already crossed Rs.5,000 million and it is expected to touch Rs.10,000 million in the next two years. Tolin’s capacity is projected to expand from the present 2,000 tonnes a month to 4,000 tonnes, also within a span of two years. “We commissioned two Banburys last month, each with 250 kg batch weight. These new Banburys add to the three we previously held, bringing the total to five. Our mixing capacity has almost reached 3,000 tonnes per month,” explained George Varghese, AGM, Operations. The company plans to install two more Banburys in the next couple of years to take the monthly mixing capacity to 5,000 tonnes.

“Our R&D lab is equipped with highly sophisticated and rare equipment in order to develop and monitor innovations, stages of production, and create critical computing parameters for the present and future requirements,” he said, adding that Tolins is the first Indian company to come out with the innovative “contoured treads” which is a hot favourite of retreaders.

Brave new overseas forays     

Some Indian tread manufacturers, including Tolins, have successfully exported tread rubber for years. But Tolins went a step further and set up a joint venture in Ukraine to manufacture tread as well as transfer the tread making technology to a local player, Dontechresina and Company, based in the Eastern Ukrainian city of Doetsk. The 50: 50 JV will manufacture procured tread under the ‘Tolins’ brand name with Tolin’s technology. The idea is to manufacture 400 tonnes of tread per month initially and the production is expected to commencein the first quarter of 2013, according to Dr Tolin. The Ukranian partner at present manufactures rubber moulded products like rubber rings, gaskets, extrusion profiles etc.

It may be noted that this overseas initiative of Tolins comes in the wake of many of the Indian tread manufacturers increasingly looking for greener pastures abroad. The domestic brands are now eying up the price sensitive markets of Eastern Europe, particularly the CIS countries. “The Ukrainian JV would extend our footprint in the potential markets of Russia, Kazakhstan, the Baltic States and even the EU markets,” says a confident Dr Tolin.

It was the voracious traveller in Dr Tolin who found that there was no local tread maker in Ukraine, formerly regarded as the ‘wheat bowl’ of the erstwhile USSR. The local retreading companies are solely dependent on imports of tread rubber, mainly from Latin America.

Sri Lankan venture

As the adage goes, sky seems to be the limit for Tolins. The year 2013 also witness the company commencing its tread manufacturing operations in neighbouring Sri Lanka. The company is fast completing the process of acquiring 5 acres of land to build factory. This is expected not only to give a major push for its products in the domestic market but also provide a platform for the export market. Initial plans are to manufacture at least 300 tonnes of tread every month.

UAE operations

Tolins’ first overseas manufacturing foray was in 2006 when it started a Plant at Ras-Al-Khaima, the UAE, thus turning itself into a multi-national company (MNC).

The UAE foray provided Tolins a platform to market its tread and tyre range in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

Dr Tolin says that the company’s tread business is growing steadily in the UAE market. “We are continuing to be a leading supplier of tread in the UAE, selling around 80-100 tonnes per month. We are also opening up new business avenues in the adjoining markets of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait etc,” he said adding that the company is further expanding its presence in the UAE by raking a 10,000-sq. metre plot and building a 30,000-sq foot Head Quarters in Ras-AL-Khema.

Unique range

TOLINS Lug tyres are uniquely designed with square lateral groove, good cornering, open shoulders, featuring high load capacity and good durability, excellent resistance to cuts and tearing on all terrains, and more retreads.

Four grooves Rib type pattern of TOLINS TYRES with bevels on shoulders provides unmatched performance in steering. Low rolling resistance, heat resistance, long wear, side skid resistance and a retread friendly shoulder are features that make Tolins tyres perform par excellence. Tolins Tyres produces 25,000 light truck tyres per month, and is all set to scale up its production capacity to 50,000 tyres per month shortly.

Tolin’s range of tyres are mainly LCV, Passenger van/Light trucks, Farm service/Off-the-road tyres. The company has the widest range of retreads comprising an array of pre-cured treads suited to any size and brands, tyre patches, bonding gum, black vulcanizing solution, and flaps among others.

“We are not complacent at all,” said Dr Tolin while taking the Rubber Asia team around his sprawling manufacturing facility full of green meadows and swaying coconut palms. Yes, his words truly reflect the grit and determination of the dynamic leader of an upcoming tyre major.