Kenda to open R&D center in Akron

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(American Kenda Rubber Industrial Co. Ltd. photo)
Tom Williams

REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio (April 2, 2014) — American Kenda Rubber Industrial Co. Ltd. is setting up a research and development center in Akron in the coming months and has hired Tom Williams, chief engineer at Hankook Tire America Corp. for the past 21 years, to head up the project as vice president of engineering.

Mr. Williams will split his time between Kenda’s operations in Asia and Ohio, where he will work with Kenda associates to advance the development process within Kenda and establish new R&D centers, the company said.

“Kenda is looking to take the next step in the tire industry, and we’re excited about the hiring of Tom and the experience he brings,” Kenda President Jimmy Yang said. “This is just step one of an aggressive short-term goal to further the quality and value Kenda products bring to the market place.”

The Reynoldsburg-based subsidiary of Taiwan's Kenda Rubber Industrial Co. Ltd. did not elaborate on the scale or timing of the proposed Akron R&D office, but said it will assist with testing and product development across all North American product categories.

“Kenda has provided me with a great opportunity to use what I have learned over my 30 years in the tire industry to help move them forward,” Mr. Williams said in a Kenda press release.

“I look forward to the personal satisfaction I will get from seeing the company grow. The Kenda office in Taiwan has welcomed me to the team and has been very interested in discussing the new ideas and plans," he said.

“Top management is very enthused about the entire process, which makes my job much easier. It is very rare in this industry to be brought in on an expansion project that has this broad of a scope.”

Before joining Hankook in 1992, Mr. Williams was a senior engineer at General Tire & Rubber Co. for two years and an engineer at Bridgestone Americas for six years, where he worked in tire dynamics with both Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co.

Taipei, Taiwan-based Kenda is considered the world’s 30th largest tire maker, with slightly more than $1 billion in sales in 2012. Kenda has had a U.S. base of operations in Reynoldsburg, near Columbus, since 1962.

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