Creating a Complete Wheel Maintenance Program Through Automaton with IMI

KEY POINTS | How Lesta robots allow IMI to scale their system to include an automated conveyor, something not possible before Lesta’s solution > Removing bottlenecks in the refinishing process through automation > Creating a solid ROI option for customers through IMI’s new process > How robotic application and automated conveyors ensure accuracy in mil thickness in the powder coating step


IMI’s Robert Fogal and Tim Gillespie discuss automated wheel refinishing solutions for the commercial fleet industry.

The average semi-truck is exposed to 100,000 miles of highway time each year. All that wear and tear requires a good wheel maintenance program to keep those truckers rolling. Wheel refinishing systems keep wheels lasting longer.

A second critical component of a sound wheel maintenance program is tire retreading. Through a proper retreading process, not only will it lower fleet costs, but it will also reduce environmental impact. Retreaded tires require 7 gallons of oil to manufacture versus new tires that need 22 gallons of oil. Four cycles of a retreaded tire can save up to 50 gallons of oil.

The key to making a solid wheel maintenance program efficient and cost-effective is a partnership between wheel and automation experts that marry quality and reliability to keep those wheels spinning.

IMI is an industry pioneer in fleet tire and wheel solutions. Still, even a top-notch provider needs continual innovation to meet the challenges and needs of its customers. They wanted to bring automation into their wheel refinishing processes, and they found the answer through an automated conveyor system and finishing robots from Lesta. How did such a partnership come about?

On Manufacturing a Stronger Standard, Lesta’s Derek DeGeest, welcomed IMI’s President & CEO, Robert Fogal, and National Sales Manager, Tim Gillespie. Fogal and Gillespie spoke about IMI’s need to create a better solution for their fleet customers and Lesta’s ability to provide automation that makes a significant difference.

“Today, the commercial dealer wants to be the one-stop-shop,” Gillespie said. “They want the on-the-wheel type program for the tires and the wheels to be refinished. What we’ve done is developed a whole refinishing solution today from start to finish.”

Robert Fogal’s career with IMI began in 1987 as a college internship while pursuing a degree in business management from Liberty University. He took a closer look at the company his father started in 1973. His early days focused on field installations and the customer service role of setting up new customers with an equipment system to install a new product called Pressure Seal. Through his contact with IMI’s customers and working with IMI colleagues and suppliers over the years, this experience helped prepare him for leadership roles in the company since the late 90s.

Tim Gillespie has spent 30 years in the Retail, Wholesale, Retread, and Commercial Tire Industries. Before joining IMI in 2019, Tim held the title of Director for 12 years, where he built great customer relationships, business leadership, and sales development. He enjoys the tire industry because it is large, and he has been able to help many owners find the correct solution for their business and build great relationships.

Interested in learning more? Look for new episodes coming out each week on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.