Tires, Inc.
David Forrester, CEO
Winston Salem, North Carolina • 800-340-0235


David Forrester didn’t grow up the in recycling business, and that’s part of what he attributes his success to. A corporate consultant for many years, Forrester was looking for something new – a business he could call his own. His criteria for his new venture was that it had to be an environmental business that was logistics based and management oriented.

“The more homework I did,” Forrester said, “the more a couple things became clear.” He explained that that at the time, most the tire recycling industry “was dominated by people from one of two backgrounds: either they were rubber recyclers from way, way back who never had been involved in whole tire recycling. Or they were trash people who were more interested in the collection and movement” of the material than they were in recycling.

Forrester said, “There weren’t really any manufacturing people involved, and that’s what my background was, so I thought it was a good opportunity.”

There was new legislation that mandated “rubber in the road,” offering a new market for scrap rubber, and then the state of North Carolina offered a grant for a tire-recycling business. Forrester applied for the grant and began setting up his business. Later, he realized the grant wasn’t quite what he had expected, offering matching funds on sales rather than “front-end money” but he decided to go ahead anyway. Tires, Inc. opened in 1991.

The business has grown since its inception, now including two processing plants, one at the original Winston-Salem location and the second in Calhoun, Georgia. Both Tires, Inc. locations focus on truck tires only, and receive most of the tires from other people who are in the collection business. These are the companies who have contracts with the generators, and they deliver the tires to Tires, Inc. for processing.

Forrester took over a second tire processing business, Global Tire in Wildwood, Florida which was in bankruptcy when Forrester acquired it in February of last year. By November, it was out of bankruptcy. Global Tire takes in mostly car tires along with some truck tires, directly from the local county as well as tire shops and haulers who have contracts with generators.

Forrester said that one of the things he likes about the business is “feeling like we’re making a difference environmentally” as tires are removed from the waste stream. He is also interested in finding “higher uses for the end products.”

Since Forrester has been in business, he’s seen significant growth in the use of rubber as a mulch, often replacing pine bark and pine straw as a preferred material. He said that the rubber can be colored to suit the landscape design and “it lasts practically forever”.

Forrester said rubber is also increasingly used as artificial turf infill. “Stuff today is four inches long and is filled halfway up with rubber or rubber and sand,” he explained, making it as good as or better than natural turf. He explained that natural turf needs maintenance and can’t withstand sustained use.

“Artificial turf can be played on 24 hours a day with no maintenance issues,” he said. While it is initially more expensive, artificial turf saves money in the long run and allows one field to take the place of several where there is a lot of use.

Forrester also expects to see a lot of growth in the use of molded products where recycled rubber is used. He said that over time, recycled rubber will see more high-end use, although tire-derived fuel will see a “short-term blip.”

Another prediction is that there will be “more and more competition for the scrap tire,” as more markets for the rubber increases. While he doesn’t anticipate the scrap tire market rivaling scrap metal sales, within the next five years “at least they won’t be paying to get rid of them,” Forrester said.

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