“There are more things we can do with the community in terms of sponsorships and in terms of contributions to local activities,” Ferrari said Monday. “I think it’s something we’ve done in the past and I thinks it’s something we can do even more in the future.”
The Pirelli chairman stopped short of identifying any specific programs the company will become involved with, however, those relationships may become apparent in a couple of weeks.
Ferrari is in Rome this week with the Pirelli sales force from all over the United States, Mexico and Canada.
“We are having all of our sales force coming to Rome for special training,” Ferrari said. “It’s a great way of getting us all together and focusing on our group strategy. It’s a strategy that focuses very much on the premium segment of the tire business.”
Personnel from the company’s headquarters plant in Rome are also involved in the meetings.
“I believe it is important to share the strategy, not just with the sales people, but also with the whole group, especially the people that do produce the wonderful premium tires that we sell in the region and the U.S. in particular,” Ferrari said.
The Pirelli chairman said medium and standard tire markets have been relatively flat but that growth in the premium market is about 5 percent.
“More and more manufacturers are producing premium cars with a lot of technology and these cars do need high-end technology tires on them,” Ferrari said.
At the headquarters plant in the Floyd County Industrial Park off U.S. 27 south, Pirelli specializes in the very high-end premium tires.
“Those are tires that have very high speed codes and a lot of technology with regards to grip performance, breaking performance,” Ferrari said. “They are tires that we make in very many different sizes in relatively small batches, which is exactly what the Rome plant is great in doing. We make about 400,000 tires a year here, again very sophisticated, very high end tires, and that is where the market is growing the most. It’s also where most of the money is in terms of profits.
“The market is tough in general, but when I talk to my colleagues in Europe they think that the market in the U.S. is doing great,” Ferrari said. “Everything is doing great compared to Europe these days.”
Ferrari predicted that at least for the short term, additional expansion of the Rome plant would be unrealistic but he added that Rome is increasing production annually.