Gri Tires – Tireless Innovation
GRI in Sri Lanka are producing speciality tires for the toughest sectors and hardest applications out there, developing the innovative solutions their customers need.
GRI produces speciality tires across a range of sectors, including industrial tires, tires for forklifts and other material handling equipment for warehouses and manufacturing facilities. The company produces tires for the agriculture sector that go on tractors and other heavy agriculture equipment around the world, primarily for the United States and Europe. It also produces construction tires- heavy-duty tires for heavy machines in the construction industry, including building construction, road construction, and infrastructure construction. All three of these sectors are demanding, hard-wearing, and critically rely on having the right equipment and the right tires for the job.
In competing to get its tires into these projects, GRI Tires has one important ace in the hole.
“Our unique selling point is the fact we use natural rubber from Sri Lanka. The natural rubber we get from Sri Lanka is of a very high grade and high quality,” says Dr Mahesha Ranasoma, CEO of GRI.
“Sri Lanka is well known for that. Using this natural rubber means that our tires are also very high grade and high quality, and being close to the source means we are able to supply our customers on time. We delight our customers. We’re a medium-sized, nimble company that listens to our customers.”
A Global Rollout
GRI occupies a niche as a proudly Sri Lankan company, with locally sourced materials and a global sales reach. Recent events have made that a challenging position to occupy.
“The main challenge the last year has been the skyrocketing freight costs along with the freight challenges that many companies are facing,” Ranasoma tells us.
“That has been one of the biggest challenges, to get our finished goods to the US and Europe.”
It is a challenge that has been affecting every facet of international trade, but it is one that GRI has been proactive in addressing from the start.
“We engage with our suppliers for raw materials and try to find the best route to acquire them while working closely with our customers to optimise the shipping costs of our products,” Ranasoma explains. “It works well for them as well as us. We’re proactively engaging our customers and suppliers alike.”
Of course, another valuable resource on both a local and international level is talent, and it is another resource that GRI is tireless in seeking out.
“We find people from the industry who have experience here in Sri Lanka. We get talent from Sri Lanka as well as from overseas,” Ranasoma says.
“We attract some of the ex-pat staff who come from India and Europe to work with us here. Then in our overseas companies, we look for talent who have experience and achieve good results. We attract talent and retain talent through attractive incentive programmes, taking care of them in terms of financial status and engaging them in career development and training programmes.”
Talent is a critical resource because of the emphasis that GRI has always placed on innovation, which Ranasoma explains takes place across two fronts- the concerns of the customer and the concerns of GRI itself.
“We continually engage with our key customers and ask them what they see as the future trends in their respective industries, whether it’s agriculture, material handling or construction,” he points out. “We direct R & D teams to develop towards those trends across different segments of the market and end-users.”
While GRI pays attention to those trends, it is also a key part of the company’s identity that it sees environmental sustainability, the protection of our planet and the response to climate change as playing a much bigger role in the industry.
“We’ve embarked on green initiatives, incorporated sustainable materials in our tires while keeping the performance at a high level,” Ranasoma says. “Last year we launched the ULTIMATE GREEN XT solid tire for the material handling industry. It is made from 48% sustainable material, a first in the industry and we’re proud of that.”
As well as the ULTIMATE GREEN XT solid tire, GRI is also connected to the GreenX Circle, a global farmer ecosystem connecting natural rubber farmers with crop farmers around the world, focusing on sustainable farming practices while increasing productivity to benefit farming communities.
This is the origin of the pure natural Sri Lankan rubber that builds GRI’s high-grade tires.
GRI has made a commitment to sustainably increasing Sri Lanka’s natural rubber harvest at the same time as creating opportunities for the rubber farmers of the island.
Through the GreenX Circle ecosystem, GRI helps to raise awareness among farming communities about sustainable and productive resource use.
Through GreenX Circle GRI has also helped to introduce solutions that enhance the lives of farming families with technical tools, products and services, while educating farmers and implementing sustainable practices in rubber tree farming and tapping to improve productivity and yields.
GRI offers a range of benefits to help farmer families to grow as a community. But this is all just a foundation for what is to come.
“We see ourselves expanding our market, within our current markets as well as expanding into new markets and new countries,” Ranasoma says. “At the same time, we will remain a high quality, high-end supplier. We are not a mass-market producer of low-cost tires. That is not a route we want to go down. We will also be expanding our manufacturing capabilities in Sri Lanka to meet the increasing demand for our tires.”
While growth is certainly on the cards, however, Ranasoma is adamant the company will stay true to its roots.
“We are proud to be a Sri Lankan company,” he says. “We are unique, carving our own niche, unique space in the industry.”