While Accuride Wheel End Solutions itself may be a new name to the market, we have a long heritage of providing leading wheels and wheel-end components to the commercial vehicle industry. Accuride Wheels and Gunite Corporation – the two business components of Accuride Wheel End Solutions – have each built a reputation for reliability, quality and dependability among our long-standing partners in the commercial vehicle industry.
Here’s a closer look at the two roads that converged to create Accuride Wheel End Solutions…
The original business around which Accuride Corporation was founded, Accuride Wheels’ road to global leadership began in 1905 when Firestone Steel Products was established as the first “spinoff” of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company.
A major milestone was reached in 1968 with the addition of the steel rim and wheel plant at London, Ontario, Canada, the facility now known as Accuride Canada. Another steel rim and wheel plant was established in Henderson, Kentucky, in 1974. In 1986, Firestone sold the business, which was purchased two years later by Phelps Dodge Corporation. In 1998, Phelps Dodge Corporation sold the company to the investment firm of Kohlberg, Kravis, and Roberts.
Throughout its history, to ensure that customers receive precisely what they want, Accuride has been willing to expand and create new ventures. For example, in 1992, Accuride established Assemblies On Time (AOT) in Springfield, Ohio, as a joint venture with Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. AOT was created to custom fit wheels with tires to be installed on one of the world’s most popular heavy trucks. In 2006, aot became an Accuride facility.
Realizing that one of the best methods to sustain its competitive edge was to diversify its product line, in 1997 Accuride entered into a partnership with Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation. This partnership solidified a bond first established between the two companies in 1972. Having already become the North American leader in steel wheel production, the newly-formed joint venture, AKW L.P., allowed Accuride to become an emerging leader in the growing forged aluminum wheel market.
Then, in 1999, as a demonstration of its increasing commitment to the aluminum wheel market, Accuride acquired Kaiser Aluminum’s 50 percent share of AKW L.P. to become its sole owner.
In efforts to increase its global presence and further meet customer needs, Accuride partnered with Industria Automotriz S.A. (IaSa) of Monterrey, Mexico, in 1997 to create the joint venture Accuride de Mexico. In 1999, to best service the emerging South American market, Accuride purchased IaSa’s share of AdM. Not only did this partnership open the doors to the emerging South American market, it also afforded Accuride the ability to best service its customers located within the region.
To increase strategic opportunities and to grow the business, Accuride acquired Transportation Technologies Industries, Inc. on Jan. 31, 2005.
Today, Accuride Wheels operates five steel and aluminum wheel manufacturing facilities in the United States, Canada and Mexico, and is the largest North American manufacturer and supplier of wheels for heavy- and medium-duty trucks and commercial trailers, as well as for buses, commercial light trucks, and specialty and military vehicles.
With its roots established on the banks of the Rock River in Rockford, Illinois, in 1854, Gunite Corporation became the first foundry west of New York to develop a process for the founding of malleable iron. As our nation grew into the 19th century and the needs of our citizens became more complex, Gunite continued to develop innovative processes and products. From its early days of manufacturing sled runners, cooking utensils and components for the burgeoning farm implement market, Gunite has never lost sight of the importance of developing new technology.
In 1924, Gunite entered into the newly-emerging commercial transportation market with its introduction of cast iron brake drums followed by the development of cast iron wheels for heavy-duty trucks in 1932. While these products may not stir thoughts of technology and innovation today, they were essential elements in the evolution of the industry. Gunite brake drums led to safer vehicle operation and Gunite cast spoke wheels helped early commercial trucks haul heavier loads over less-than-consistent road surfaces.
In the 1940s and 1950s, Gunite continued to expand its product line to meet the needs of other commercial vehicles beyond the now flourishing trucking industry. As new generations of trucks and vehicles were developed for the more demanding environments of off-highway applications, Gunite was a leader in the development of wheel and brake products to meet the need for increased strength and durability.
Throughout the remainder of the 20th Century, Gunite grew and solidified its position as the industry’s number one supplier of wheel-end components to the commercial transportation industry. It added disc wheel hubs and disc brake rotors to its product line. Gunite was instrumental in the evolution of automatic slack adjusters for the heavy-duty vehicle market through the development of clearance sensing technology, a technology that provides for more accurate and consistent brake operation over a broad range of braking conditions.
Gunite became a business of Accuride Corporation on January 31, 2005, when Accuride Corp. merged with and into Transportation Technologies Industries, Inc., then-owner of Gunite, resulting in TTI becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of Accuride Corp.
Today Gunite is the largest producer of wheel-end components in North America, designing, manufacturing and selling more wheel-end components to the heavy-duty trucking industry than any other single manufacturer. As the number one producer of wheel-end components, the industry has come to look to Gunite for innovative solutions to increase vehicle performance and lower operating costs.
As Gunite approaches its 160th year of operation, it continues to have a rich history of innovation in the art of manufacturing products for the heavy-duty trucking, off-highway and bus markets.