Bandag celebrates 60 years in Australia

In Product Profile, October 20224 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineNovember 11, 2022

In September, Bandag celebrated its diamond jubilee in Australia. As the country’s sole producer of pre-cured retread materials, it was an occasion to remember.

Bandag is known for cost-effective, cold-cured retreads. The process was pioneered by Bernhard Nowak, the Bandag name being an anagram of his initials (BAN), his hometown of Darmstadt (D) and the German equivalent of ‘Pty Ltd’ (AG).

The formation of Bandag in Australia was driven by Bill McNichol, the founder of Queensland Tyre Retreading. Having read about the Bandag process in a trade magazine, he sent his eldest son Gordon to Germany to scope it out. With the global rights also sold in 1961 to American businessman Roy Carver, McNichol then flew to Muscatine, Iowa, to secure the Australian rights to the process – and following a revision to the agreement, the right to manufacture in Australia.

McNichol imported a complete retreading plant and installed it at his former hot-cap retreading shop at Coronation Drive, Brisbane. Demand saw Bandag expand rapidly with a second plant in Sydney, and then Melbourne and Cairns soon after.

In 1970, the decision was made to relocate and consolidate Bandag’s production efforts into one site, and 9ha was purchased in the Wacol Industrial Estate – where Bandag remains.

Heath Barclay, Bridgestone Australia and New Zealand managing director

Several eras of ownership followed McNichol’s death in 1970, with Blue Metal Industries taking over in 1976 and Boral in 1982. Bridgestone’s association with Bandag commenced in 2000 when Bridgestone Australia purchased the Australian and New Zealand operations from Boral, with Bridgestone Corporation then acquiring Bandag Inc globally in 2007.

According to Heath Barclay, Bridgestone Australia and New Zealand managing director, the 60-year milestone celebrates this history and points to the continued relevance retreads play.

“This milestone celebrates the achievements of every current and former employee of Bandag in Australia and their commitment to producing quality pre-cured tread and retreads, continuous process improvement, and supporting trucking and bus fleets in reducing their environmental impact through more sustainable product choices.

“This commitment is the reason why Bandag continues as a strong Australian manufacturer today.”

Bandag’s Wacol plant is responsible for producing pre-cured tread for the eight company-run Bandag retread factories and 30 licensed dealers throughout Australia and New Zealand. It is also the primary producer for the Asia Pacific region, exporting to Thailand, Fiji, China, South Korea and Indonesia, and a key part of the global supply chain for other Bridgestone regions, including America and Europe.

Greg Nielsen, Bridgestone’s general manager of retread business.

“As sustainability becomes an increasingly more important factor for fleet operators, we’re proud to be able to offer products through Bandag that promote material circularity through casing reuse, waste reduction and the use of fewer resources and materials. Further to this, Bandag is also supporting local jobs and industry,” Barclay adds.

The Bandag tread plant in Wacol is the last remaining tread production facility in Australia, following the cessation of car tyre manufacturing back in 2009. Bandag regards this as a testament to the sustainable nature of retreading.

Says Greg Nielsen, Bridgestone’s general manager of Retread Business: “Our success is down to our emphasis on quality and adoption of state-of-the- art equipment, ensuring we remain a viable solution for the local market. By focusing on quality, we’ve been able to stay competitive through ensuring that locally made Bandag retreads are comparable to the quality of new Bridgestone tyres.”