KeithHeeres.com is my personal blog and website where I talk about what I do for a living, how and why I do it, and any other things I care about.
How I make my living is by servicing and supporting customers that need help finding the right Off-The-Road (OTR) wheels, rims, tires and related services and products.
The types of customers I deal with routinely are Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s), commercial tire dealers, equipment dealers, equipment owners, construction companies, paving companies, rental services, parts suppliers, and the government and defense contractors to find oe wheels.
So why me?
Why do customers choose to work with me over other people in the OTR wheel and tire industry? The easy answer is that when anyone has a problem they need to solve and solve it quickly, they want instant answers. They want to find the fastest and best solution to that problem possible. Rims and tires are a bit more complicated than most people understand. Coming up with the right wheel and tire packages involves knowing a great deal about all the wheel types and off road tires.
I find that my long term customers like to deal with me because they know, that I know, what I am talking about when it comes to off road wheels. I can take the information they are giving me and cut right to the solution very quickly. The faster the better, right?
I have extensive knowledge about off-the-road wheels and tires and they can tell that right away when they talk to me. I usually can tell right away when they tell me what they need which and what kind product they are looking for.
Do I have instant answers every time? No I don’t. Why? Because the world of wheels and rims is vastly more involved and complicated that most people understand. A lot of times I have to put my detective hat on and research and investigate to find what those customers need. If it’s something we haven’t manufactured recently, something new or an aftermarket replacement or a wheel and tire conversion we have never done before, I will need research which off road rims are required to mount the tire and workup a price. That can take a little longer too because I need to find the material they need, who has it if we don’t stock it, get a cost and a lead time. Combine all that information together with manufacturing labor, paint and shipping costs to arrive at a purchase price to give you. As you can understand there a lot of steps that goes into putting a price on a tire and wheel product.
The process above doesn’t happen every time someone calls to find or purchase a product. We stock several steel rims and wheel components that are built and ready to ship at a moment’s notice. These items have a standard sale price and no thought or work needs to go into getting a price for those items. There are several types of wheel styles and designs that we routinely manufacture that I can quote right away.
In the case of an OEM that wants me to quote something, I need to have information about their machine, its intended use, their tire selection if they have made one, loads and speeds, and OEM wheels. All that information gets evaluated and where necessary I work with our engineering department to get what the customer needs.
If the customer is an aftermarket customer in need of a replacement wheel/rim for equipment that is very old, sometimes there is no easy answer because of obsolescence of the material involved. Then we have to retrofit, improvise and substitute to make things work. Most times I can determine what aftermarket rims they need without a lot of extensive research. But there are cases where things are not so simple and the “right” answers take more time. Tires and rims can get quite involved you see.
Having a great team!
Another advantage I have is that I work with a great team of people that support me and the customers I take care of. We have a lot of great people in the company I work for and they have years of wheel and wheel manufacturing experience. No man is an island and it takes a team to get the job done and done right. Big emphasis on the TEAM!
Just in the Quincy, IL plant where I work we have over 160 years of wheel experience alone with the people in the office and the guys out in the shop that build the wheels. I can sell it, but they have to make it and they know how to do that very well. At the end of the day it is about taking care of the customer and getting the job done to make the customer happy with our service and support. As a team we are truly interdependent and have to work together to make things happen and deliver satisfaction to our customers. I give these guys and gals a pat on the back every chance I get because of the great job they do. I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate what they do and how well they do it.
The company I work for also has an extended supply chain where we can source a wide range of rim, wheel and tire products. The suppliers are a who’s who of domestic and international companies that manufacture OTR rims, wheels and tires.
The company I work for has engineering support that can produce designs, prints, 3D CAD models and do FEA analysis. They can work with customer prints and if necessary produce a print for customer review and approval.
We don’t just sell wheels other companies make, but we have full manufacturing capabilities to make steel wheels from 8” to 63” in diameter. A common thing I tell people is that if it rolls off the road we do it, but there are exceptions.
Not only do we make wheels, but we fix them as well. We have been in the wheel repair, inspection and recertification business for a couple decades. These services can benefit customers by making sure their wheels are in good serviceable condition, are safe, repaired properly with factory new parts and are warranted and recertified for an extended service life.
So again why me? I bring my personal knowledge and experience and the excellent service and support of all the people that back me up. It is all about teamwork and delivering the right product, at the right price, and on time.
My range of knowledge and experience
In my over 20 years working in this industry and with the range of rim and tire packages the company I work for offers, I have been exposed to just about every type of rubber tired vehicle you can imagine. I can confidently say I pretty much know something about any type of wheel and rim product that is produced by any manufacturer now and in the past.
I describe myself as an “Off-The-Road (OTR)” wheel specialist. But what does that mean? It is not a common term or label so I will have to explain.
Off-The-Road (OTR) as opposed to Over-The-Road (OTR)? The OTR acronym throws people a lot. I am constantly clearing this up with customers and new callers to the office.
Over-The-Road is a term commonly associated with truck drivers who earn their living driving semi-trucks and pulling trailers loaded with freight. But also covers vehicles and equipment moving faster than 45 mph over roads and highways. So what that means is we don’t specialize in wheels and rims for high speed vehicles. More specifically we don’t do:
- Automotive to include cars, SUV’s and pickup trucks. Also racing vehicles.
- Motorcycles, mopeds, and go carts.
- Over-The-Road cranes
- Aircraft wheels for airplanes and jets
Exception: We do supply Over-The-Road wheels and rims for vehicle and equipment manufacturers to certain OEM customers that have that requirement for DOT or European U.N.E.C.E certified products.
Off-The-Road (OTR) is the term associated with vehicles and equipment that are intended to operate mostly off improved or paved roads or roads at all, at operating speeds of less than 45 mph. This definition covers a whole lot of different types of equipment operating in a lot of different kinds of uses and applications. So examples these Off-The-Road applications would be:
- Surface and underground mining
- Construction equipment
- Heavy industrial equipment
- Material handling equipment
- Ground support equipment used in the airline industry
- Lawn and garden
- Utility and sport equipment like ATV, RTV and UTV’s
Other types of wheel and rim products we don’t do are like casters used on portable, mobile equipment and furniture. That is a whole industry to itself.
Success in the wheel business
To be successful at what I do, you have to be fully informed about the wide range rim types and profiles in use today and in the past. You have to know how those rims are converted into wheels, which rim and wheel types are used in all the various equipment applications, and the tire sizes those rims are designed to support. I can tell you that the range of knowledge about these products you must have is very large and can be over whelming to most people that don’t work in this industry.
There is no such thing as a “wheel school”. There is no formal training to get into this field. The only way you can learn this business is to work with experienced people that will mentor you and pass along their experience. You need to work with and handle the products, see them in use, see how they are manufactured. It really helps to have a healthy sense of curiosity and read as much as you can find in the catalogs and brochures promoting these products.
You also have to know how to read a wheel print and understand what the print is telling you about the dimensions and specifics of that wheel or rim product.
My years of experience
I didn’t set out in life to become a wheel salesman and Off-The-Road wheel and tire specialist. Life circumstances, personal relationships and skills I have developed along the way in my working life led me to this field of work.
When I entered this industry over 22 years ago, I didn’t know anything about wheels except they mount tires on them and you need to have them on your car or truck. If you needed a tire you bought one from a retail tire dealer. I remember telling the owner of the company when he was selling me on this business and getting me to come to work for him that “I don’t know a damn thing about wheels”. His reply was “that’s great because I will teach you everything you need to know”. He gave me a handful of catalogs and said start reading and to come up with questions for all the things I didn’t understand. At that stage of my education in the business I had a lot of questions because I didn’t know anything. Thus began my education into the OTR wheel industry and I have been learning ever since.
I commonly say that I learn something new every day in this business. That is again because of the enormous range of products available and the application of those products on all the different kinds of equipment. That also is what makes this field of work a challenge and very interesting. At least to me it is.
Specialist versus expert
So why do I call myself a specialist and not an expert?
The dictionary defines “expert” as a person with a high degree of skill or knowledge in a certain subject. Having, involving, or demonstrating skill in or knowledge of a certain subject. That pretty much describes me with my vast knowledge of OTR rims, wheels and tires. But expert to me has the connotation that one knows everything there is to know about everything in the industry. I can’t say that I know everything there is to know about rims, wheels and tires. I can confidently say I know a lot and vastly more than most people do for sure. And I certainly know who to call when I need more information to answer a question I don’t have the answer to.
A specialist is defined as one who is devoted to a particular occupation or branch of study or research. I feel pretty comfortable with that description of what I do and who I am. I am definitely a student of the off the road rim and wheel industry. In know a great deal about the products that I sell, service and support. I know a great deal about the products competitors promote in the marketplace as well.
When I came to work in this industry and I was beginning to learn about the products, I came face to face with a “library of knowledge” at the company I started working for. That library was filing cabinets full of prints and three ring binders full catalogs, copies of catalogs, typed sheets of paper with notes and specifications, and more notes taped to the walls. The enormous amount of learning I had to do was daunting and cumbersome to say the least for someone just getting started and wanting to learn about this industry.
Prior to entering the OTR wheel business I was in the personal computer business and sold personal computers and software to businesses and consumers. With my background I knew there was a better way. With my skills and previous experience I began the process of building spreadsheets and databases to make finding the vast array of information we used on a daily basis faster and easier. I have continued that process all through the years I have worked at my company to create very large databases covering collected prints, wheel and rim specifications, and OEM equipment makes, models, tire sizes used, OEM part numbers for wheel and rim parts, cross reference part numbers to the parts we sell and competitors part numbers. Over the last 22 plus years I have accumulated massive amounts of information that is quickly searchable to find what I need.
I also network with other wheel and tire specialists in the industry like myself to share information and prints to further expand my database of knowledge about wheels, rims and equipment. The acquisition of new information is a continual process because of the vast range of equipment that has been produced in the past and is being produced today. The range of new information is continually expanding so we won’t have to stop collecting information any time soon. Those databases just keep growing.
Thanks for coming to my website
If you found your way to website and you have read this page to the bottom, you no doubt have a greater understanding of what I do and how I go about doing my job. Customers and their satisfaction are number one.
I believe strongly in what I do and strive for accuracy, efficiency, being competitive in the market place and being fair with my customers. If I make a mistake, I own that mistake. I am not too proud to admit that I made a mistake. I will work with you to find a solution that you will be happy with and we can then move forward.
I look forward to hearing from you if determine you need my help
Off-The-Road Wheel and Tire Specialist
More information about me can be found on my About Me page on this website.
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