At the 66th IAA in Hannover Deputy Editor Richard Wilson interviewed Ralf Hämmerling for Commercial Tyre Business.
Hämmerling has achieved success with Athos
Hämmerling The Tyre Company is continuing to report growth, thanks to the success of the Athos premium truck tyre brand in Europe. The Athos brand has developed as a result of the expertise and knowledge the company has acquired during its history.
Founded 37 years ago in 1979, Hämmerling, located in Paderborn Germany, and headed up by CEO Ralf Hämmerling, now has around 500 employees that stretch across four branches covering tyres, logistics, IT and marketing.
Hämmerling The Tyre Company has seen good commercial performance with its Athos truck tyre brand. The brand offers options for every application from front to rear axle, on vehicles ranging from light trucks to construction site vehicles and buses. The tyres are very light, retreadable and regroovable and are audited by TÜV Nord and inspected regularly. The range, which has been available since 2008, combines Chinese production and manufacturing with German expertise and knowledge. This is what the company sees as the core foundation of its success.
As of one year ago, three factories in China produce the tyres, with Hämmerling focusing on three key points: mileage, price and quality. These three aspects deliver what CEO, Ralf Hämmerling refers to as an “excellent result”, which is used all over Europe. Hämmerling, though, are not content with this and are looking at introducing the Athos brand into more European countries over the next three years. The brand has also been extended with the introduction of the Athos ECO tyre which is also produced in China. The Athos Eco tyres in size 385/65 R 22.5 were produced using a newly designed rubber compound, a sophisticated profile placement and a dedicated casing, resulting in a truck tyre that delivers fuel savings of 0.5 l. This is whilst simultaneously reducing its dead weight by 4.1 kg from 73.4 kg to 69.3 kg.
Hämmerling, which is also a renowned retreader, has reacted to the downturn in the European-wide retread market by reducing its capacity. Ralf Hämmerling explains that, “the price of raw materials will soon change and therefore so will the performance of the retread market. With the current price of Chinese new tyres, it is very difficult for independent retreaders, but we think that the market will bounce back in the next few years.”
In reference to the new tyre business, Hämmerling The Tyre Company normally looks for one to three dealers in a specific country, offering them exclusive rights, before offering marketing and commercial support to do business in that country. Regarding specific performance, the company revealed that due to cheap Chinese new tyres and a drive for competitive prices in the UK, business has been difficult on British soil. The company are looking to do more there in the future, but not at the moment. The story is slightly different in Poland though, where there exists a large market, which has chosen to focus more on quality, which is playing into the hands of Hämmerling’s key strengths.