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Meet Greg Ritchie of Roadrunner Rubber

Today we’d like to introduce you to Greg Ritchie.

Greg, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Our company was founded in 1968. I actually worked in radio and TV for 25 years before becoming “a tire guy”.

And I have learned a lot! Only the round tires seem to work – learned that the hard way.

We are the only manufacturer of industrial tires in Houston, and only one of two left in  the US! In the five years, I have owned the business we have completely revamped what we do. We offer local homemade tires which we also install for local forklift dealers and customers. We support our local community; we sponsored the Houston Ballet last year and the Houston Dash this year. We make a special type of tire that no one else in the world makes that is zinc free, which protects groundwater from contamination. And, well, we’re just overall a sweet bunch of people.

Has it been a smooth road?
Easy one! With Roadrunner tires…wait for it…it’s always a smooth road!

Actually, personally, it was a challenge for me to learn a new industry. On the business Side, we really don’t think much about logistics and material handling. At least I never did. But everything we buy – from a local mom and pop cafe to something from a big online outlet has to move. It must move from raw materials to a factory maybe.

Then from there to distribution points and finally to a retail or wholesale location. Each move is impossible without tires!

The main struggles have been competing against the big guys. Because we have a great crew and we all share in our successes it is difficult for us to compete with a product produced overseas. But we’re still in the fight, focusing on quality over quantity…

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Roadrunner Rubber story. Tell us more about the business.
We are most proud of the fact that we are still here, and still making tires the way they did 50 years. Some improvements and efficiencies of course. And there are more selfies now with our tires than there were in the 70’s. We set ourselves the slogan of being the problem solvers in our industry and then we had to live up to it. So far, we have!

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Like most other industries, we face stiff competition from overseas. Until I can sleep at night paying my crew $1 per day, this is not going to be a fair fight. The other issue we face is the commoditization of products.

With an online world everything becomes an orange. And what I mean by that is that other than a little squeezing and inspecting, we essentially choose one orange, or any other orange. I mean, and orange is an orange. With the online world so pervasive, we have begun to think that everything is an orange. We buy shoes now online.

Something as important as a shoe, a humble shoe which will either lighten your load or leave you blistered and teary. And we buy them by the bushel online without knowing how they will fit, because we have a coupon code or we think we might not find a parking spot at the closest store. I am not criticizing online shipping or trying to say we should stop progress. But it is a new challenge business owners face. It used to be you actually had to build a better mouse trap. Now if your trap can get enough “likes”, people will believe you did – no other proof required. So, interesting for business owners and buyer beware!

Contact Info:

  • Address: 4824 Downs Lane,
    Houston, TX 77093
  • Website: roadrunnertires.com
  • Phone: 713-697-0633
  • Email: greg@roadrunnertires.com

Getting in touch: VoyageHouston is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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