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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Dick Cormack: From delivering milk to supplying world rally tyres

Dick Cormack has come a long way since he started work on his dad’s milk round.

Dick Cormack photo
Dick Cormack

He still faces the odd early morning, but these days he is more likely to be flying to China than delivering pints round Cargo.

The 45-year-old’s company DMACK is one of only two tyre companies licensed to supply the World Rally Championship – the other is Michelin.

And the ink has just dried on a contract to supply every taxi cab in Dubai with DMACK tyres.

That’s despite the company being only five years old and suffering from the minor competitive disadvantage of not actually owning a tyre factory – his products are made in China.

It’s a story of success achieved against seemingly insurmountable odds and a reminder of the power of dreams.

“I had always been interested in motorsport and at 18 I built my own rally car and started competing locally,” says Mr Cormack from the desk of his modern office on the Kingstown Industrial Estate.

After a short stint helping his dad, who also owned the shop and post office in Cargo, he landed a dream job in a tyre factory.

But he soon realised he would never be happy working for someone else.

“I basically saw there was a gap in the market for affordable tyres for rally competitors, so I left and set up my own company,” he says.

“I literally just got on a plane, flew to China and made some appointments at tyre factories.

“I decided on one factory and built up a really good relationship with them. They began producing our brand tyre and I started selling them locally in the UK.

“Demand just kept building up and I went from producing two sizes to 28 in two years.”

The next chapter of the DMACK story features an even more audacious storyline – persuading the Governing body of world motorsport to allow a rookie tyre company to supply one of its blue-riband championships.

“The part of the contract that covers tyres for the World Rally Championship came up, open to any tyre manufacturer with experience,” he remembers.

“It meant we could put a case together to the FIA and convince them we could produce tyres, make delivery schedules and look after customers.

“We went through that and they gave us accreditation – just us and Michelin.

“We started in 2011 and are now in our second year.

“From the Chinese point of view it’s fantastic for them because they are proving they can produce tyres at a high level.

“We are now working in partnership with them, using our motorsport heritage and our reputation as a producer of high quality tyres, to produce road tyres, which we launched in April.

“We’ve had massive interest. I was in Dubai earlier this year at an appointment with a partner for the Middle East and I’ve been to Russia to take our road tyres out there.

“We sell the motorsport tyres across South America, New Zealand, Australia, the US and Canada and we are selling into Russia, Ukraine and Scandinavia.

“In the first three months of 2012, turnover has tripled.

“We are now producing 6,000 motorsport tyres a month and started off with 25,000 road tyres a month in April.

“We’ve got a contract to supply all of the taxis in Dubai, which started a couple of months ago.”

But despite its global reach, the firm remains resolutely Cumbrian.

Mr Cormack’s dream is to eventually see tyres rolling off a production line in Carlisle.

“That would be the ultimate,” he says.

“I hope eventually to have a factory and if I do it would definitely be in Carlisle. We’ve got the skills and the history of tyre production here.

“Being in Cumbria has been great for us.

“Having M-Sport [the company that runs Ford’s World Rally Team] just down the road has been a massive help.

“[Owner] Malcolm Wilson has been very supportive and has road-tested our tyres and given us feedback – you can’t buy that sort of experience and expertise.

“I’m a Cumbrian lad, I will always live here. Where else would I want to be?”

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