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Tornel or Hulera Tornel is a Mexican enterprise and only surviving tire producer in Mexico, dedicated to making tires and other automotive industry-related products. Founded in 1933 by Mexican businessman Armando Tornel, who in October 2006 entered the Worldwide Tire Industry Hall of Fame. Tornel has been consolidated, making it the top Latin American tire producer, and one of the largest in the world.
Tornel was founded by Armando Tornel Murillo originally from de El Salto de Juanacatlán, Jalisco Mexico. Murillo entered the tire business when he was only 15 years old, while working as a tire seller at the same time he was studying in the night school of San Indelfonso in Mexico City. Years later, he went to the United States, where he pursued a technical career in Tire Engineering at Smithers Laboratories, and rubber technology at Vanderbilt Laboratories, gaining practical experience at Goodyear and Mohawk, both in Akron, Ohio. When he returned to Mexico during 1933, he partnered with his father and together they opened a tire-sale business with 27 employees, at a store located at Hidalgo Avenue number 91, in the historic downtown area of Jalisco. In 2008, Tornel was acquired by JK Tyre of India.
In 1937, the business was incorporated as Compañía Hulera El Centenario and it produced and marketed tires under the America and All States brands. Just 14 years later, the company name was changed to Hulera Tornel (Tornel Rubber), expanding to also produce rubber and supplies for tire repair.
In 1951 Hulera el Centenario changed its name to Hulera Tornel. Under this company name, Tornel Murillo assumed company chairmanship. His two brothers, Raul and Salvador joined later, in other key posts. In the 1950s the enterprise launched in other sectors and it started making bicycle tubes and also devised new manufacturing techniques. In 1968 it expanded to manufacturing bicycle tires as well.
Development, growth and consolidation
In the 1970s the company started to grow dramatically, but it also began to compete with other national tire companies like General Popo, Euzkadi, and the oldest of all, Hercules. At this time Tornel began to launch most of its modern products such as the tire tubes manufactured with point technology and dabbled in making tires for trucks and buses.
The 1980s brought a crisis to the country of Mexico due to devaluations that caused the closing of Tornel's competitors: General Popo, Euzkadi and Hercules. When the company saw these closings, they paid attention and steered the business toward specializing in the retail vehicle and truck sales niche. This move allowed them to adapt and survive strongly in the market.
The closings of these competitor factories allowed Tornel free rein in the market but not for long since later came competition from foreign tire manufacturers which would turn out to be more significant competition. Competition soon developed from Goodyear, Bridgestone, Michelin, Firestone and BFGoodrich. However, despite the incursion of foreign companies, the market position and Tornel prestige was not diminished at all in Mexico.
In May, 2008, Tornel was purchased by India-based JK Tyre for $68 million. JK Tyre is an Indian tyre manufacturer, currently about the 23rd largest in the world. It intends to use Tornel as the base for its approach to the North American market, and is investing in molds to manufacture tires under both the Tornel and JK brands. There are three factories manufacturing tires, all within the metropolitan area of Mexico City. The Tornel name was written into the Tire Industry Association Hall of Fame in October 2006, in a ceremony in Las Vegas, Nevada.