FINDLAY, Ohio-In an effort to improve service to customers in the southeastern U.S. and Latin America, Hercules Tire & Rubber Co. bought the assets of Mohawk Tread Rubber Co., a unit of Yokohama Corp. of North America. On Sept. 25, Findlay-based Hercules and Yokohama closed the deal, which includes the former Mohawk retread rubber plant in Guntersville, Ala., and its equipment. Yokohama had shut down the factory one month earlier.
Yokohama, however, has retained the Mohawk name and marketing rights.
The acquisition gives Hercules its first wholly owned manufacturing facility outside of Findlay, although the retread supplier has a joint venture manufacturing plant in Beijing and technical agreements in Colombia, Brazil and India.
The 52,000-sq.-ft. plant opens a Hercules base of operations closer to many of its southern customers, according to Hercules President Craig Anderson.
``The Southeast down through Florida is a very good retreading market,'' Mr. Anderson said.
Hercules is privately held by 52 tire and retread dealers. In addition to its retreading division, the company has its own private brand of passenger, light truck and medium truck tires, operates three warehouses, an export division serving 33 countries, and is an investor in Nashville, Tenn.-based CarMerica.
Initial production in Guntersville should begin in January after Hercules has updated the plant and trained its new employees, according to Paul Rinauro, vice president and general manager of retreading.
The company said it will add a Banbury mixer during the second quarter of 1996.
Production at the 155,000-sq.-ft. Findlay plant, however, is expected to remain ``essentially at the same level,'' the company said.
Overall, the acquisition of the Guntersville plant is likely to boost Hercules' capacity by about 25 percent. The company had been near capacity for some time, Mr. Anderson said, but was unable to expand facilities at its landlocked Findlay plant.
``Our only option was to add equipment to become more efficient in the same amount of space,'' he said. With the new plant, he added, Hercules customers stand to gain quicker access to the company's mold cure, precure and custom mix products.
Currently, Hercules has distribution centers in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Antonio, and plans near the beginning of the year to open its fourth in Houston, which should also ease the company's distribution problems during peak buying periods.
The company attempts to deliver its orders within three to five days, Mr. Anderson said.
The additional manufacturing capacity, coupled with the Houston distribution facility, will provide dealers quicker turnaround time on special product orders not typically stocked at the retail level, he said.
Yokohama, which acquired Mohawk Tread Rubber in 1989 along with the Mohawk Rubber Co., put the division up for sale in March, saying it wanted to concentrate on new-tire production, according to a Yokohama spokeswoman.
The sale ``will have no effect on the production and availability of products sold by Yokohama Tire Corp.,'' she said.
Although Hercules did not purchase Mohawk Tread Rubber's customer lists, Mr. Anderson said his company has ``had talks'' with former Mohawk customers.
``It's up to them to decide if we are what they are looking for,'' he said.