Tire and wheel manufacturing facility coming to Prairie du Chien

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The city of Prairie du Chien officially welcomed Moto Race Tire to town last week, as construction on a new tire and wheel factory began Friday in the North Gateway Business Park. Pictured (from left) are Engineer Felix Liu and CEO Mark Thornburg, of MRT, along with Lori Bekkum, Prairie du Chien Economic Development director, and Chad Abram, interim city administrator. (Photo by Correne Martin)

By Correne Martin

A growing national brand of tires and wheels for off-road vehicles, race cars and trucks is expanding its company by building a new manufacturing/distribution facility in Prairie du Chien’s northern industrial park.

Moto Race Tire is owned by CEO Mark Thornburg, a Prairie du Chien native who played football at and graduated from Prairie du Chien High School, and whose dad started a funeral home here. Mark initially worked for 3M Company in Prairie du Chien, then Minnesota and eventually transferred to California.

“We plan to start construction tomorrow,” an elated Thornburg said Oct. 19. “Our target operating date is March 1.” The facility will be located across the street from Solomon Corporation and behind BoxLogix, in the city’s evolving North Gateway Business Park.

Moto Race Tire is based in Huntington Beach, Calif. As it started expanding into the truck tire business, Thornburg said demand from the Midwest and West Coast increased, prompting him to look at opening a second site for production, distribution and sales in the Midwest.

“We were looking at other cities, but I can’t say enough about how well the city administration did with bringing this operation to Prairie du Chien,” Thornburg said, giving prominence to Lori Bekkum and the Prairie du Chien Economic Development team, Mayor Dave Hemmer and City Planner Garth Frable. “It was really coordinated so well that we went from ‘should be’ to ‘let’s do it.’ The city helped us out and now we want to help the city out. It’s gonna be fun bringing a national brand to town.”

MRT Engineer Felix Liu agreed. “The city made the whole deal very smooth. The transferring of land was very easy and the legal procedure was very smart and lean,” he complimented.

Thornburg said the company will employ as few as 4 or possibly as many as 20 people.

The initial 10,000-square-foot facility in Prairie du Chien will pave the way for MRT to grow and become more efficient, Thornburg believes. If business success is as projected, the building could morph into 40,000 square feet. There is also an option for a second lot, which would allow MRT as much as 80,000 total square feet at that location.

Thornburg also pointed out that he’s looking forward to taking advantage of the rail transportation opportunities the river community will provide as well as the city’s central location among larger cities like Minneapolis, Des Moines, St. Louis, Chicago and Milwaukee.

“We’re trying to keep all the resources in this area too,” Thornburg added, referring to utilizing local banks and laborers for the building project as well as local employees potentially.

Bekkum said the city is overjoyed to welcome Moto Race Tire to Prairie du Chien and that administration has taken great pride in its work to secure this business transaction. “The first phone call we got from him, we jumped,” she said, expressively.

MRT provides an “end-to-end” process, from design, engineering, manufacturing, quality review and audits, to U.S.-based assembly, logistics, supply chain, warehouse and distribution. It has markets in motorcycle, power sports, off-road, military, golf carts and trucks and is launching over 30 new products every year. Its quality is ensured by in-house, certified testing or government lab testing for accelerated aging, durability, endurance, force and movement, and anti-puncture design.

MRT has several very successful private label programs in place with leading wheel and tire retailers, including Polaris, Proarmor, Custom Car, Nikola Tesla and Pratt and Miller.

“We’re very excited about some of the fun things we will be able to do in Prairie du Chien as well, like put some race cars in parades and offer specials on tires,” Thornburg declared. “I want to get a lot of guys on my tires.”

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