Local Company Defends Retreading Practices
Posted September 6, 2006 8:41 a.m. EDT
WILSON, N.C. — A new audit says a local tire company might have overcharged the state more than $1 million. White's Tire Service supplies retreads for public school buses across the state. Now, the company defends the way it does business and what it charges.
For 30 years, White's Tire Service in Wilson has buffed, molded, and built retreads for the state's school buses and trucks.
"We guarantee it to be equal to a new tire," said company owner Ed White.
During that time, White said his company's retreads saved taxpayers millions of dollars compared with competitors' charges. However, a recent state audit questions whether White's exploited its state contract to squeeze out $1.4 million in extra profit over the past four years.
The company gets paid about $40 extra per tire if it does three or more spot repairs before retreading. Auditors found that while other companies reported fixing that many trouble spots a bit more than 4 percent of the time, White's charged the additional fee 99 percent of the time. There's no way to verify the repair once it's covered in rubber.
White claimed his workers identify and fix an average of six cuts or holes once a tire is buffed down. He called the audit misleading because other companies have contracts that roll spot repairs into the total retread cost, so there's no reason to report them all. If they're doing less prep work, White said he questions the quality of the job.
His company's credibility may be under attack, but White stood by his billing. More importantly, he stood behind the tires that have carried millions of school children.
"Safety is the most important thing to us," he said.
The tire contract will soon be rebid, and the state auditor wants to eliminate the extra cost for spot repairs. White said he'll bid again, but he won't change the way he does business.