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Toyo to spend $210 million on Georgia plant expansion

WHITE, Ga.—Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. plans to expand its factory in White, boosting the site’s capacity to a level needed to handle growing demand for Toyo’s tires in North America.

The Osaka, Japan-headquartered tire maker’s wholly owned U.S. production arm, Toyo Tire North American Manufacturing Inc., will spend an estimated $210 million on the addition.

Included in the expansion project, which will increase the size of the 129 million-sq.-ft. factory by about 700,000 square feet, is the addition of a variety of equipment, including mixing, processing and curing machinery, said James L. Hawk, president of Toyo Tire North American Manufacturing.

Toyo’s White factory features large tire manufacturing, warehousing and distribution sections.

The company plans to break ground on the addition in October, he said, and complete the expansion by August 2015.

About 400 workers will be added at the factory during the course of the project, according to the executive, who also serves as chairman of Cypress, Calif.-based Toyo Tire Holdings of Americas Inc., which oversees the Japanese company’s operations in North America.

The White plant has a work force of about 770.

Initially, the additional section likely will be half full, he said. As capacity continues to grow, the remaining portion of the floor space will fill up.

Capacity nearly to double by 2018

New equipment that will be added at the facility will allow the manufacturer to boost its capacity of about 4.7 million tires to approximately 8 million by 2018, Hawk said. The plant makes a variety of Toyo and Nitto brand tires, including high performance passenger, light truck and SUV.

It is the fourth capacity expansion at the facility—established in June 2004—since 2005, when the company set up its automated tire production system, Advanced Tire Operation Module. The firm said the system makes highly consistent, uniform tires and is designed for multiproduct, small-lot production with reduced lead times.

Each phase of the four-stage expansion project has been the addition of almost a complete tire production factory, Hawk said.

Calling the North American market strategically critical, the company said its latest expansion solidifies Toyo’s base of operations in the region because its goal is to meet the vigorous demand for tires in the market.

“We’re not chasing volume; we’re anticipating additional growth with our current customers and to match their needs,” according to Hawk, who joined the company in December 2004 after serving as vice president of manufacturing for Yokohama Tire Corp. He has been president of the North American business and a corporate officer for the parent firm since 2008.

Toyo’s North American business has been aggressive in the marketplace and has gain¬ed considerable ground since its inception in 2004, the firm said.

As far as possible future expansions at the site are concerned, Hawk said, “certainly we’ll have the capacity for expansion by 2018. Beyond that, who knows?”

SOurce: Rubber News

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