AKRON-The city that once boasted it was the ``Rubber Capital of the World'' has lost another tire maker. Fullerton, Calif.-based Yokohama Tire Corp. confirmed it will close its office in the Akron suburb of Fairlawn by June and relocate most of its 27 employees.
``As the tire industry becomes more competitive, Yokohama has a goal to refine and streamline its operations to be better positioned to serve our customers,'' said a company spokeswoman.
The Fairlawn office handles human relations, purchasing, cost accounting, production scheduling and original equipment activities, but very little in the way of tire dealer relations. It had served as the headquarters for Mohawk Rubber Co., which Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. acquired in 1989, then merged with its Yokohama Tire Corp. U.S. subsidiary in 1992.
The office has been ``very productive,'' the spokeswoman said, and its functions ``are still very important to us. We're not closing or eliminating those services and positions, just relocating them.''
Most of those functions will be split between the company's Salem, Va., manufacturing facility and its Atlanta regional sales office and distribution center. The Salem plant makes Yokohama and Mohawk passenger, light truck and high performance tires, and houses plant and personnel operations.
The move will not impact the company's dealers in any way, the spokeswoman said.
Relocation offers have been made to the majority of the Fairlawn office's employees, she said. However, the company declined to reveal how much money it would save with the move.
The spokeswoman estimated Yokohama's U.S. marketshare at about 2 percent for passenger/high performance tires, about 1 percent for the light truck and 7 percent for the heavy truck. Mohawk's figures, she said, are about 1 percent for the passenger tire market and less for light truck.
Yokohama also recently announced it was selling its Mohawk Tread Rubber business in order to focus more on tire production.
Yokohama joins the parade of tire makers planning to leave Akron. Continental General Tire Inc. is moving its headquarters and passenger and light truck tire operations to Charlotte, N.C. by the end of the year and Groupe Michelin is continuing to relocate its Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Co.'s headquarters to Greenville, S.C., Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. moved to Nashville, Tenn., in 1992.