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September 28, 2017 4:45 PM, EDT

Benefiting from a Stronger Financial Position, Accuride Introduces New Wheel Bearing System

Accuride's Rick Dauch Dauch by Joseph Terry/Transport Topics

ATLANTA — Accuride introduced a product developed by a company it acquired in February of this year, a move indicative of the company’s growth strategy with the backing of its private equity ownership and stronger financial position it enjoys since returning to private ownership late last year.

“There is a consistency of purpose in what we are trying to do,” said Rick Dauch, Accuride’s president and CEO, at a news conference Sept. 27 at the inaugural North American Commercial Vehicle show here, noting that Crestview Partners’ acquisition of the company in November was an important step.

“We fixed our balance sheet [and] reduced our debt by $85 million,” he said. “Our operations are set, our team is set.”

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Dauch noted that Accuride is focused on growing organically and through acquisitions.

One of those acquired companies, component manufacturer KIC, developed the product Accuride launched at NACV. The Rolliant wheel bearing system has a patent-pending bearing cone design that helps maintain proper bearing adjustment and tolerances, and proper adjustment can make the difference between long life and premature wear, said Neil McIrvin, vice president of original equipment manufacturer sales for KIC’s trailer and municipal division.

McIrvin by Joseph Terry/Transport Topics

“In every hub system bearing adjustment is key — it is how you get the longest life out of a hub system,” he said. If a hub is too tight, overheating can occur. Too lose, and seals can be become dislodged, leading to leakage of oil and grease, he said.

The hub is designed for ease of installation and to reduce maintenance, McIrvin added. It works with both straight-spindle and tapered-spindle hub designs and does not need specialized spindle nuts or extra parts, according to the company. It carries a 10-year warranty for trailer applications and a seven-year warranty for trucks, according to the company.

The KIC acquisition added 13 global third-party contract locations to Accuride’s operations, and was just one of several recent deals for the company.

Up next is Accuride’s pending acquisition of Mefro Wheels, Europe’s largest producer of steel wheels. Upon completion in the fourth quarter of this year or early 2018, the deal will double Accuride’s size, making it a $1 billion company, Dauch said, and position Accuride as the top wheel supplier in Europe. It will pick up eight manufacturing plants in the deal, he noted. The deal will also give Accuride a platform to compete in the region’s aluminum wheel market, which Dauch said is currently dominated by Alcoa.